Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual growth’

Romans 5:18-21

As Paul winds up Romans 5:18-21, he continues to compare and contrast Adam and Jesus. From this passage, Adam and Jesus are sometimes known as the two men. Between them they represent all humanity, and everyone is identified in either Adam or Jesus. We are born identified with Adam; we may be born again into identification with Jesus. “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” Guzik explains “The idea of Adam and Jesus as two representatives of the human race is sometimes called Federal Theology, or Adam and Jesus are sometimes referred to as Federal Heads.

This is because under the federal system of government, representatives are chosen and the representative speaks for the people who chose him. Adam speaks for those he represents, and Jesus speaks for His people. Someone may object: “But I never chose to have Adam represent me.” Of course you did! You identified yourself with Adam with the first sin you ever committed. It is absolutely true that we were born into our identification with Adam, but we also choose it with our individual acts of sin. The outcome of this election – choosing Adam or Jesus – means everything. If we choose Adam, we receive judgment and condemnation. If we choose Jesus, we receive a free gift of God’s grace and justification.”

If we boil it down, Adam’s disobedience makes mankind sinners. Jesus’ obedience makes mankind righteous. We have to choose which will represent us. The reality is that all of us will start in Adam’s bucket as sinners.  All have sinned and fall short of God’s standard. It didn’t happen to us, we made intentional choices to sin, but we are all sinners. “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Jesus was sent by God to give us the opportunity to overcome our sin and become righteous, justified by His sacrifice on the cross that can become ours through faith.

Paul ends by reminding us that the law doesn’t make us sinners – we make choices that do that. The law makes man’s sin clearer and greater by clearly contrasting it with God’s holy standard. “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Sin is rampant among all of humankind. But God’s grace through Christ is abundantly more – we cannot out sin God’s grace.  We can’t sin more than God is willing and able to forgive. We can choose to reject His grace and forgiveness but it is ours for the claiming through faith in Christ. If we don’t receive it, there is no one to blame but ourselves. He’s made it available to all!


Romans 5:14-17

In Romans 5:14-17 Paul continues his discussion about death, sin, and salvation. One thing we know for sure is that we’re all going to die. Another thing we know is that all of us are sinners. The two are connected, as scripture tells us that the wages of sin are death. But that death is far more than a physical thing. There is also a spiritual separation from God if we don’t address the sin problem. Death has been around since the beginning of mankind. “Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.” Both Adam and Jesus were completely sinless men from the beginning, and both of them did things that had consequences for all mankind.

But that’s where the similarities between Adam and Jesus end. Adam did an offense that had consequences for the entire human race and as a result of Adam’s offense, many died. Jesus gives a free gift that has consequences for the entire human race, but in a different way. Through the free gift of Jesus, the grace of God… offered freely to all for eternal life. Adam’s work brought death but Jesus’ work brings grace and life. “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” Jesus paid a once for all price for all of us.

Paul continues to drive home the difference between sin and grace. Both carry long term and eternal consequences. The result of Adam’s offense brought judgment, resulting in condemnation, and caused death to reign over mankind. But there are also completely opposite results of Jesus’ free gift: grace abounded to many, justification comes to all who receive, abundant grace flows freely to those who believe bringing the gift of righteousness, and ultimately eternal life. “And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.”

It is staggering to think how completely death has reigned since Adam and his sin. Everyone who is born dies – the mortality rate is 100%. No one survives. When a baby is born, it isn’t a question of whether the baby will live or die – it will most certainly die; the only question is when. We think of this world as the land of the living, but it is really the land of the dying, and the billions of human bodies that have come onto the earth over the centuries proves this. But Paul says that the reign of life through Jesus is much more certain. The believer’s reign in life through Jesus is more certain than death or taxes! “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

Romans 5:10-13

In Romans 5:10-13 Paul continues to show us the power of God’s grace. He makes the point that if God showed such dramatic love to us when we were enemies, think of the blessings we will enjoy once we are reconciled to God! If God does this much for His enemies, how much more will He do for His friends! “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” This reconciliation isn’t only helpful when we die; it also touches our life right now. God is forever done dealing with believers on the basis of wrath because of our sin.

He may chasten us as a loving Father, but not as punishment or payment for their sins. God only allows chastening to bring loving correction and guidance. God has reconciled us through grace in Christ. “More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” What matters is what we have through Jesus. What we have through our own works doesn’t matter and can’t help us. It’s all through Jesus. All the sin we have is left behind. All the mistakes of the past, present and future are wiped away. Jesus takes it all.

Paul then talks about the spread of sin through humanity. The Apostle Paul regarded Genesis 3 as totally, historically true. According to Paul, Adam and Eve were real people and what they did has a lasting effect to the present day. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.” It is important to understand that the Adam and Eve account is not an optional passage to be accepted or rejected.

Paul doesn’t prove this, he simply accepts it as true because it is in God’s Word, which is what our response should be as well. Sin entered the world through Adam. Adam is responsible for the fall of the human race, not Eve. Eve was deceived when she sinned, but Adam sinned with full knowledge. Paul reminds us of the importance of the law. Without it, sin doesn’t get counted. There is nothing to be measured against without the law, so even though sin is present, it isn’t call sin because there is no law. But since the law exists, sin is clear, and the wages of sin is death. Death spreads to all of us because we have all sinned!

Romans 5:6-9

In Romans 5:6-9 Paul continues to talk about the benefits of God’s love and plan for us. Paul describes the greatness of God’s love. It is love given to the undeserving, to those without strength, to the ungodly, to sinners. This emphasizes the fact that the reasons for God’s love are found in Him, not in us. We are definitely not deserving. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” God sent His Son at the right time to accomplish His plan. He died when we were sinners who needed a Savior. His timing was just right for us. We are all still in need of Him as Savior!

Paul reminds us of the fact that Jesus dies as a substitutionary sacrifice or propitiation as he wrote of it earlier in Romans. Here, he makes the point again by saying that Christ died for the ungodly. The ancient Greek word for is the word huper, which means “for the sake of, in behalf of, instead of.” Jesus didn’t have to die for us – He didn’t owe us anything – but freely chose to do so. “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die…”. God’s love is a love beyond even the best love among humans. A good man might die a as a martyr for the “right” person –but Jesus died for those who were neither righteous nor good.

The work of Jesus on the cross for us is God’s ultimate proof of His love for you. He may give additional proof, but He can give no greater proof. If the cross is the ultimate demonstration of God’s love, it is also the ultimate demonstration of man’s hatred. It also proves that the height of man’s hatred can’t defeat the height of God’s love. “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus died for us as sinners – not worthy of that sacrifice at all. The demonstration of God’s love isn’t displayed so much in that Jesus died, but it is seen in whom Jesus died for – undeserving sinners and rebels against Him.

Since we are justified by the death of Jesus on the Cross, we can be assured that we are also saved from wrath through Him. The wrath of God that was revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men was placed on Jesus as a substitute in the place of the believer. “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” Whose wrath? God’s righteous wrath. It is true that we must be saved from the world, the flesh, and the devil but most of all we must be rescued from the righteous wrath of God.

Romans 5:3-5

In Romans 5:3-5 Paul addresses the reality of life that it isn’t always a rose garden, but can be filled with suffering. But he wants us to focus on the positive that comes with those sufferings, not dwell on the negatives. These things he refers to aren’t minor inconveniences, but are real hardships in life. Paul’s life was full of them which makes him a perfect person to give us some perspective. Paul knew better than most what suffering was all about. “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings….” We have a choice to make when we face suffering – to embrace and learn from it or to be frustrated and complain about it.

We can choose to see the good in suffering. Paul reminds us there is a good outcome from suffering if we look for it – “…knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame…” A runner must be stressed to gain endurance. Sailors must go to sea. Soldiers go to battle. For the Christian, tribulation is just part of our Christian life. We should not desire or hope for a tribulation-free Christian life, especially because:

  • God uses tribulation wonderfully in our life.
  • God knows how much tribulation we can take, and He carefully measures the tribulation we face.
  • Those who are not Christians face tribulation also.

The first positive from suffering is that it produces endurance, or patience as some versions translate the word. As we wrestle with suffering we grow. This is sometimes referred to as the golden chain of Christian growth and maturity. One virtue builds upon another as we grow in the pattern of Jesus. Most every Christian wants to develop character and have more hope. These qualities spring out of perseverance, which comes through suffering. We may wish to have better character and more hope without starting with suffering, but that isn’t God’s pattern and plan. We can’t become mature without going through the process to get there.

The hope that suffering builds in us is not a hope that will be disappointed. We are assured of this because God has proved His intention to complete His work in us. “…because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” As believers, we should actually want this so we can have a deeper inner awareness of God’s love for us. God’s love is communicated to us through the Holy Spirit. If we aren’t experiencing it, we need to learn to live in His fullness. Everyone who is a Christian has the Holy Spirit. But not every Christian lives in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. We need to develop that relationship and experience Him fully.

Romans 5:1-2

In Romans 5:1-2 Paul begins to share the benefits of being justified through faith. He has spent the first four chapters of Romans making the point that the only way to salvation is to be justified by grace through faith unto righteousness. Now he shifts gears to focus on the benefits that go with that faith. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Being justified speaks of a legal decree. We are all guilty before God without faith, but because of what Jesus did and the righteousness that we can have freely through grace based on faith, our guilty sentence is transformed to one of being justified and free.

The first benefit of our faith is peace with God. Because the price is paid in full by the work of Jesus on the cross, God’s justice towards us is eternally satisfied. This is not the peace of God, but rather peace with God; the battle between God and our self is finished – and He won, winning us. This peace can only come through our Lord Jesus Christ. He and His work is our entire grounds for peace. In fact, Jesus is our peace. Remember that the Bible doesn’t say we have peace with the devil, peace with the world, peace with the flesh, or peace with sin. Life is still a battle for the Christian but it is no longer a battle against God – it is fighting for Him.

The second benefit we have is a standing in grace – in God’s unmerited favor. This grace is given through Jesus and gained by faith. Grace is not only the way salvation comes to us, it is also a description of our present standing before God. It is not only the beginning principle of the Christian life, it is also the continuing principle of the Christian life. “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Many Christians begin in grace, but then think they must go on to perfection and maturity by dealing with God on the principle of law – on the ideas of earning and deserving. Paul makes it clear that is not the case. Grace is all we will ever need.

A standing in grace reassures us: God’s present attitude towards the believer in Christ Jesus is one of favor, seeing them in terms of joy, beauty, and pleasure. He doesn’t just love us; He likes us because we are in Jesus. Standing in grace means that:

  • I don’t have to prove I am worthy of God’s love.
  • God is my friend.
  • The door of access is permanently open to Him.
  • I am free from the “score sheet” – the account is settled in Jesus.
  • I spend more time praising God and less time hating myself.

Newell wrote this about The Proper Attitude of Man under Grace

  • To believe, and consent to be loved while unworthy, is the great secret.
  • To refuse to make “resolutions” and “vows”; for that is to trust in the flesh.
  • To expect to be blessed, though realizing more and more lack of worth.
  • To testify of God’s goodness, at all times.
  • To be certain of God’s future favor; yet to be ever more tender in conscience toward Him.
  • To rely on God’s chastening hand as a mark of His kindness.
  • A man under grace, if like Paul, has no burdens regarding himself; but many about others.

Grace is all we need. There is nothing else required!

Romans 4:19-25

In Romans 4:19-25 Paul helps us understand just how far Abraham stretched his faith. He considered his body as good as dead, and Sarah wasn’t far behind. “He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.” But Abraham chose to focus not on the circumstances which were bleak and doubtful at best. Instead he chose to focus on the promises of God and how he was to be part of God’s plan. It is a matter of what we choose to focus on that helps us live out life in faith.

Abraham’s faith did not waver, even though it looked impossible. He stayed the course believing that what God had said would come true. “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” Though it was a huge challenge, Abraham remained steadfast in faith. He knew God was able to perform. “That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” This kind of faith sees the work of God done. It sees the work of God done in the immediate and in the eternal.

It wasn’t only for Abraham’s benefit that God declared him righteous through faith; he is an example that we are invited to follow – it is also for us. Paul’s confidence is glorious: It shall be the same for us who believe; this wasn’t just for Abraham, but for us also. “But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also.” When we talk about faith and saving faith in Jesus, it is important to emphasize that we mean believing that His work on the cross (delivered up because of our offenses) and triumph over sin and death (raised because of our justification) is what saves us.

It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” There are many false-faiths that can never save, and only faith in what Jesus accomplished on the cross and through the empty tomb can save us:

  • Faith in the historical events of the life of Jesus will not save.
  • Faith in the beauty of Jesus’ life will not save.
  • Faith in the accuracy or goodness of Jesus’ teaching will not save.
  • Faith in the deity of Jesus and in His Lordship will not save.
  • Only faith in what the real Jesus did for us on the cross will save.

The resurrection has an essential place in our redemption because it demonstrates God the Father’s perfect satisfaction with the Son’s work on the cross. It proves that what Jesus did on the cross was in fact a perfect sacrifice made by One who remained perfect, even though bearing the sin of the world.

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