The Book of Romans – Right with God

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“For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.” Romans 2:28-29

Paul tells us that circumcision guarantees nothing. True religion is about a matter of the heart. It is about the inner man, not the outer man. It is not about how we look it is about how we act. To be sure, circumcision was a sign of membership in the covenant community of Israel, but it was only a sign. The true Jew is not one who is merely circumcised outwardly. It is about an inward circumcision of the heart. The circumcision Paul intends here is in keeping with the promise in Jeremiah. “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord. “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34) This promise is to the Jews and the Gentiles. It is the coming of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Which if we repent ,will make us right with God.

The Book of Romans – Hypocrisy Part 2

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“The Jewish ceremony of circumcision has value only if you obey God’s law. But if you don’t obey God’s law, you are no better off than an uncircumcised Gentile. And if the Gentiles obey God’s law, won’t God declare them to be his own people?  In fact, uncircumcised Gentiles who keep God’s law will condemn you Jews who are circumcised and possess God’s law but don’t obey it.” Romans 2:25-27

E Stanley Jones asked Gandhi how Christians could make Christianity naturalized in India, not a foreign thing…but a part of the national life of India and contributing its power to India’s uplift? What can you tell me to make this happen?

Gandhi replied, “First, I would suggest that all of you Christians…must begin to live more like Jesus Christ. Second, practice your religion without adulterating it or toning it down. Third, emphasize love and make it your working force.” Gandhi also said that he had no problem with Jesus Christ, but he had a problem with Jesus’ followers. When I was first called to the ministry and started attending Bible College, all the students put a clergy sign on their cars. I would not put this on my car because at times I felt that I did not want to be a stumbling block to anyone. At times I do have some road rage when I am driving. It is not that I am ashamed of Jesus Christ and my relationship with Him; I just wanted to be sure that I was the Christian that Jesus wanted. I have matured over the years and I might put one on my car now. Hypocrisy in the church was my excuse for not going to church far too long. The Book of Romans is about being right with God and being right with God is not being a hypocrite.

The hypocrite goal is to be seen. They are on stage and seek to win the audience’s applause. They are engaged in some action so that people can see them. It is clear that this is ultimately sad. A lonely actor on a stage performing whatever role is required to win approval from the current audience. This is the true heart of hypocrisy.  

The Book of Romans – Hypocrisy

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“Well then, if you teach others, why don’t you teach yourself? You tell others not to steal, but do you steal?  You say it is wrong to commit adultery, but do you commit adultery? You condemn idolatry, but do you use items stolen from pagan temples? You are so proud of knowing the law, but you dishonor God by breaking it. No wonder the Scriptures say, “The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you.” Romans 2:21-24

When a saloon keeper who sold his tavern to a local church, the members tore out the bar, added some lights, gave the whole place a fresh new coat of paint, and installed some pews. Somehow a parrot which belonged to the saloon keeper was left behind. On Sunday morning that colorful bird was watching from the rafters. When the minister appeared, he squawked, ‘New proprietor!’ When the men who were to lead in worship marched in, the bird piped, ‘New floor show!’ But when the bird looked out over the congregation, he screeched, ‘same old crowd!’ This is what Paul is telling us in this scripture, same old crowd, nothing has changed. The Jews were hypocrites. Just what is a hypocrite? Hypocrite is someone who practices hypocrisy, who pretends to hold beliefs, or whose actions are not consistent with their claimed beliefs while hypocrisy is the claim or pretense of holding beliefs, feelings, standards, qualities, opinions, virtues or motivations that one does not actually possess. The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense. Hypocrisy is one of the most serious problems that we have in our churches today. I believe that Paul felt the same way.  He felt that hypocrisy was serious in the Jewish religion. He spent so much time on this subject because unless we can be committed in our relationship with God, we will only be a stumbling block to the world.

The Book of Romans – Guide

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“You who call yourselves Jews are relying on God’s law, and you boast about your special relationship with him. You know what he wants; you know what is right because you have been taught his law. You are convinced that you are a guide for the blind and a light for people who are lost in darkness. You think you can instruct the ignorant and teach children the ways of God. For you are certain that God’s law gives you complete knowledge and truth.” Romans 2:17-20

A guide is a person who advises or shows the way to others. In these verses Paul is leading us into the life that we need to live if we are committed to God. He is telling us about the Jews as an example of what we are not to do. Jesus never condemned anyone for their sins, but He condemned the Jews. They felt that they were the ones that should lead others to God.  They felt that God had appointed them to be guides to the world. They felt that they had all the answers to God, because they were the chosen ones that were given the law. The problem was they just did not understand God. They really just did not know God. There is no better person to write about the Jews and how they abused the law for there own glory. Paul says that he was a Pharisee of Pharisees. He knew the law and he knew that the law was not the way to God. Jesus is the only guide and the only light of the world.

The Book of Romans – God’s Law

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“When the Gentiles sin, they will be destroyed, even though they never had God’s written law. And the Jews, who do have God’s law, will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it. For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight.” Romans 2:12-13

Paul continues to built his case that we are all guilty in the eyes of God. In this verse Paul is saying that the Jews had the laws of God, but they did not obey the laws. The Gentiles will be judged but they did not even have the law. Earlier Paul said that even if we don’t have the law, we know what is right or wrong. It is built into our DNA by God. Some people say that we are not under the law anymore because we are under God’s grace and this is true to an extent. Jesus told us that, “Don’t misunderstand why I have come, I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.” (Matthew 5:17-18) We need to realize what law Jesus was talking about. It was not the rules of the Pharisees. It was the law of Moses, which is the Ten Commandments. It is not about just knowing the Ten Commandments; it is about obeying the Ten Commandments.

“Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:16-17)

The Book of Romans – The Message

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“There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.” Romans 2:9-11

“Behind him, a trail of tracks. Beneath him, a pounding stallion. Before him, miles of trail to cover. Within him, a flint-rock resolve.

Squinty eyed. Firm jawed. Rawboned. Pony express riders had one assignment – deliver the message safely and quickly. They seized every advantage: the shortest route, the fastest horse, the lightest saddle. Even the lightest lunchbox.

Only the sturdy were hired. Could they handle horses? The heat? Could they outrun robbers and outlast blizzards? The young and the orphans were preferred. Those selected were given $125 a month (a good salary in 1860), a colt revolver, a lightweight rifle, a bright red shirt, blue trousers, and eight hours to cover eighty miles, six days a week. Hard work and high pay. But the message was worth it.” (Max Lucado) The Pony express was out to deliver an important message, so was Paul. The message that Paul was delivering us in the Book of Romans was the most important message that we could receive. This message was so important that it’s meaning was the difference between life or death. In this scripture Paul’s message was if we continue in our sins, we will be judged for our actions. There will be trouble and death. But if we turn from our sin, we will have the peace and glory of God in our lives. God does not favor anyone in this message, not the Jews or the Gentiles. All will face God on judgment day. To me the most important part of this message is not heaven, but having the peace and the love of God here on earth.

The Book of Romans – Salvation by Grace

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“He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers.  But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.” Romans 2:7-8

Paul is building his case that none of us can hope to stand before God on our own merits and receive anything other than God’s judgment that we have earned with our sinfulness. Paul is teaching us that we need another way to be saved; Paul will reveal that it is through faith in Jesus, standing before God in our place. I believe that Romans is the most important book in the Bible. Paul was a very educated person and his reasoning in the book of Romans is without a doubt the best in the Bible. He starts out telling us that we are sinners and that we have no excuse in our sinning. That we will one day face the judgment of God. Romans is a book that makes us face the reality of God and our relationship with Him. Satan does not want us to face the reality of life. He is the master of illusions. He wants us to live in a world that is not true. Paul wants us to face the real world that we live in. One of the keys to the healing of the wounded spirit is to face our reality and deal with our problems. I know that in these devotions on Romans I am only hitting the surface of the meaning of this scripture. I want to challenge you as we continue to study Romans to get deeper into this book and pray that God will show you His wonderful grace. Salvation only comes by the grace of God. Salvation only comes by repentance of our sin and turning to God.

The Book of Romans – Stubbornness

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“But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will judge everyone according to what they have done.” Romans 2:5-6

Stubbornness is a personality trait in which a person refuses to change his opinion about a situation or refuses to change his mind about the action that he has decided to take. A stubborn person has a resolute adherence to his own ideas and opinions. I can be a stubborn person. Being a stubborn person can be good in some ways. Being stubborn at times means that we are committed to our beliefs and we will not change. We will not be led astray. The bad part of being stubborn is when God leads us to repent of our sins and we refuse to move from our position of sin. God knows how to deal with my stubbornness. When I come to the point that I will not move, God always sends something into my life that changes me to the way God is leading. More than anything else in my life I want to obey God and follow where He is leading. When I have my doubts about something, God tells me to start digging and see what is right. We need to realize that unless we turn from our sin, God’s judgment will follow. God will judge all of us on what we have done. King David failed God in many areas of his life, but he always repented and followed God’s leading. God even says that David was a man after His own heart. Let God use your stubbornness to do good works for Him and advance His Kingdom.

The Book of Romans – God’s Grace

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“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” Romans 2:4

This is what I would like to shout out from the roof tops. God is Good!  He cares about everything in your life. I did not give my life to God until I was thirty years old. I wish I had seen what God can do and wants to do for us sooner. I would have less regrets. In this verse Paul is talking about the grace of God. The Book of Romans is about the grace of God and how we can be right before Him. I want to say that I don’t understand why people don’t see the grace of God, but I know that they are blinded by Satan and the world. “So, all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) I pray that this veil can be removed from others so that they can see God’s love.

We sometime hear the phrase “do not mistake my kindness for weakness.” The same is true with God. His mercy and grace in dealing with mankind is not a sign of indifference or frailty. It’s meant to inspire us to thankfulness, to faith, and to repentance. God’s temporary display of patience isn’t a signal that our sin doesn’t matter to Him, or that He is unwilling to express His wrath. Instead, He means to call us, through His display of kindness in this moment, to turn from our sin and follow after Him forever. That’s true repentance.

The Book of Romans – God’s Judgment

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“And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things.  Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things?” Romans 2:2-3

Paul is beginning to lay the ground work for the central theme of Romans. He is leading us to the fact that everyone, even the Jewish people, must be saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Paul has sprung a trap on his religious readers. He is especially targeting those Jewish people who think that following the law of Moses has made them right with God, and therefore free from His judgment. Paul described how humanity, on the whole, reject God and indulge in all kinds of sin. Paul is saying that such sinful living earns a death sentence from God. Paul knew that his Jewish reader assumed that list of sins and the resulting judgment of God did not apply to them. The Jewish leaders felt that they were immune from God’s judgment.

Why would anyone think that they could escape God’s judgment? The Gentiles may think that because they have rejected the very idea of God, they can escape God’s judgment. Paul insists they are wrong. Now he comes to his Jewish readers. They may make the mistake of thinking God won’t judge them for their sin either because they don’t think themselves sinful because God won’t judge Jewish people. Paul will show they are wrong on both counts. It is amazing that this man Paul, that was a Pharisee of Pharisees, that was trained his entire life as a Pharisee that on that road to Damascus, Jesus Christ changed his life forever. This same Jesus Christ can change your life also. Just ask Him into your heart.