Sunday – January 2, 2022 Romans Week 35 Romans 8:1-4 “Dealing with Guilt and Sin”

Sunday – January 2, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – January 2, 2022

Romans 8:1-2
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

We come to a chapter that has often been called either the greatest or one of the greatest chapters in the Bible. Many have pointed out that it begins with “no condemnation”, ends with “no separation” and in between there is “no defeat”. Personally, I’ve come to Romans 8 again and again when I’ve been discouraged or depressed. If you struggle with guilt or with sin, if you’re going through trials, read Romans 8. If you’re struggling with assurance of your salvation, Romans 8 has the answer. Interestingly, while Romans 8 exhorts me forward in my faith, there is not a single command in the chapter. Philipp Spener truly said that if the Bible were a ring and Romans its precious stone, chapter 8 would be “the sparkling point of the jewel”.

There is a noticeable shift from Romans 7 to Romans 8. In chapter 7, “I” is frequent, the law is prominent, and sin is dominant. In chapter 8, the Holy Spirit is frequent (more than any other NT chapter), God’s grace and persevering love are prominent, and victory over sin is dominant. Right out of the gate, Paul deals with two very practical issues: guilt and sin. As we saw in chapter 7, believers fight an inner war. That is why Paul’s teaching in Romans 8:1-4 is fundamental to the Christian life.

The Christian need not be overcome by guilt or by fear, due to his sins. The cross of Jesus Christ is the solution from sin and its condemnation, for all who are justified by faith. The death which Christ died was for all of the sins of the one who receives His work, by faith. The righteousness which the Law requires and which we find impossible to achieve, God achieves in and through the Christian, through the prompting of and power of the Holy Spirit. In Christ and through the Holy Spirit, God has delivered us from the penalty and the power of sin.

There is no condemnation! What a wonderful truth to the ears of every believer. While our Lord’s death at Calvary delivered us from condemnation, it also delivered sin to condemnation. In Christ, God condemned sin. God condemned sin in the flesh. The flesh was the “handle” sin found to lay hold of us and to bring us under condemnation. When God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, He came in the flesh. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh. And when He suffered the wrath of God and the penalty of death in the flesh, sin was condemned in the flesh. In that very realm of the flesh, in which it seemed sin could not be defeated, God overpowered sin, condemning it in the flesh. Because of Jesus Christ, we are not condemned. Because of Him, sin is condemned, and in the flesh. For the Christian, the shackles of sin are surely broken.

Sunday – December 19, 2021 Romans Week 34 Romans 8 Overview “From Agony to Ecstasy”

Sunday – December 19, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 19, 2021

Romans 8:3-4
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

There is an expression that goes something like this: only two things in this life are certain, death and taxes. Now this may be true for the unbeliever, but for the true believer in Jesus Christ we must add at least one more thing—sanctification. That is the force of Romans 8. All of the struggles, all of the turmoil, all of the agony, is a part of God’s plan to conform us to Himself.

We gain a clue to the importance of this chapter simply by contrasting the conclusion of chapter 7 with that of chapter 8. Chapter 7 ends in agony, with the apostle describing the constant struggle going on within as he attempts to live a life which is pleasing to God in the power of the flesh. Those who can identify with the agony of Paul in Romans 7 will rejoice with him in the ecstasy of Romans 8. Do you desire to serve God and to obey His commands and yet find it impossible to do so? If not, then you should go back to the beginning of Romans and start reading again. If you have come to that point of despair of which Paul speaks, then you have come to the point of dependence upon God.

Paul’s approach to the spiritual life is so different from that of many today. Paul does not seek to motivate Christians by questioning their salvation or by suggesting that, by sin, they can lose it. He does not suggest that unspiritual living is the result of failing to possess the Spirit but bases his teaching on the certainty that every Christian is indwelt by the Spirit. And he does not appeal to guilt or fear but to grace and assurance. Paul assumes that his readers are genuine Christians. If they have been justified by faith, then they have the Spirit dwelling within. Christians, according to Paul, do not need to receive the Spirit, but to respond to the Spirit, in faith and obedience for assurance, guidance, empowerment, and a host of other ministries.

The Christian’s walk according to the Spirit is a walk of obedience, based upon our obligation to God, based upon His goodness and grace to us. There are no harsh words, no dictatorial commands. Paul is not a sergeant here addressing new recruits but a brother reminding us of the goodness of our Father. God’s Spirit is a gift from the Father to every Christian. He reminds us that we are sons. He leads us and empowers us so that we may act like sons to the glory of the Father.

Sunday – November 21, 2021 Romans Week 30 Rom 7:1-6 “The Relationship Between Rules and Righteousness”

Sunday – November 21, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 21, 2021

Romans 7:4
So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.”

Throughout history, the two extremes of license and legalism have existed with each pointing to the other as the justification for their own error. To the legalist, grace was the cause of sin while the Law was the solution for sin. To Paul, legalism promoted sin while grace alone could overcome it. The Law did not save Abraham, for it was not given at the time he was justified, by faith alone. It was not the Law which saved Israel from Egyptian bondage, for the Law was not given until after God’s defeat of Egypt and Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea. Law-keeping would never save any Israelite but only faith.

When Jesus began His earthly ministry, He immediately distinguished His teaching and that of the Law from the false teaching and legalism of the scribes and Pharisees. The apostles and leaders of the church in Jerusalem had great difficulty concluding that the gospel was to be offered to the Gentiles and that Gentile saints were not to be placed under the yoke of the Law and made Law-keepers. The apostles had to battle against both license and legalism as contrary to the gospel and the grace of God.

Legalism is one of the great threats to the Christian of our day, not just to those of Paul’s day. It is certainly true that we can find ample evidence of license and liberalism in the church today. But the danger about which Paul warns us in our text is legalism. Legalism is not the cure for license just as grace is not an excuse for sin. It is not Law but grace which the church needs more of today because it provides the cure for sin. Yet the temptation to put Christians under rules and regulations, thinking rules will defeat sin and result in righteousness, still exists in the Church today. Legalism may look good but it utterly fails to produce righteousness.

Christianity has always had its hypocrites and its bad examples. There are those who would abuse the grace of God, making it an excuse for their sin. They are wrong! There are also those who would seek to put Christians under a long list of rules, usually Don’ts. These folks are wrong too. Justification by faith is God’s solution for sin and its consequences. Justification by faith is God’s provision of righteousness, so that men might be saved, and so that they might manifest His righteousness in their lives. If you would be free from the burden of your sin, receive God’s gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. Trust in Him as the One who died in your place, bearing the punishment for your sins. Receive from Him that righteousness which you can never produce by your own efforts.

Sunday – October 24, 2021 Romans Week 26 Romans 6:1-4 “Are You Dead to Sin”

Sunday – October 24, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 24, 2021

Romans 6:1-2
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

As we have seen in our study of Romans 5, God gave the Law, not to defeat sin, or even to reduce it, but to cause it to increase. The Law made sin more evident, and it increased the problem faced by mankind. But it also meant that the grace by which sin was to be dealt a death blow was also to increase. Since grace always surpasses and exceeds sin, the greater sin is, the greater grace must be. While we can be confident in the principal that grace always outruns and exceeds sin, we need to be aware there is a corollary to the principle and it is this: SIN ALWAYS SEEKS TO USE THAT WHICH IS GOOD TO PROMOTE EVIL.

The question Paul raises in verse 1 is an illustration of this. Paul’s answer makes it clear this is not something he would suggest or promote, but that some do. Paul asks the question, “Are we to continue in sin, that grace might increase?” If God caused sin to increase by the giving of the Law, with the result that grace abounded all the more, why should His children not do likewise? “May it never be!” is Paul’s response, and as always, it is an expression of shock, horror, and disappointment. It is an expression of dismay that someone could take a valid truth—grace always outruns sin—and make it an excuse for doing evil. For a Christian to continue in sin, because his sins are forgiven and because grace will abound, is an abominable thought to Paul—and it should be to us.

Justification was not intended as a license to sin, but as liberation from sin. It is God’s provision not only to be declared righteous but to live righteously. Sin blinded us as unbelievers, but it also distorts our vision and perspective as believers. Paul’s words in our text serve as a strong caution, reminding us of the effects of sin which remain in us. We must beware of the danger here. How easily doing what is wrong can be justified as serving the purposes of God. We must constantly be on the alert to this danger.

The gospel of Jesus Christ does not offer forgiveness for those who would continue in sin, but salvation for those who would be delivered from their sins. When you read through the Bible, you will discover that God never proclaimed the gospel as a means by which sinners could continue to sin, but the means to have the assurance of forgiveness and eternal life. The gospel begins with a condemnation of sin and sinners, by a righteous and holy God. It offers men the solution for sin in Jesus Christ, a solution which includes both forgiveness of sin and freedom from sin.

Sunday – October 10, 2021 Romans Week 24 Romans 5:20-21 “Super Abundant Grace”

Sunday – October 10, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 10, 2021

Romans 5:19
For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

We might say that the work of Adam was a bad beginning for the whole human race. But the work of our Lord Jesus Christ offers men a new beginning. Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection does much more than to allow us to go on living just as we have in the past, but knowing that the sins we commit are forgiven. The work of our Lord makes it both necessary and possible for us to begin living in a whole new way, not as the servants of sin, but as the servants of righteousness. The work of our Lord not only forgives the sins of our past, it wipes out our past, and gives us a new future. In Christ, God offers men a whole new life, a new beginning, a fresh start. What good news this is—to the ears of a repentant sinner.

Having summed up the impact of Adam and Christ, Paul returns to the subject of the Law. Already Paul has said that those who lived before the Law (from Adam until Moses, verse 14) died because they sinned in Adam. Sin is not imputed to men without law (verse 13). The absence of the Law, for those who lived before the giving of the Law, was a kind of blessing. Without the Law, sin, other than that of their sin in Adam, was not imputed to them.

The giving of the Law did not solve the problem of sin. The Law was not given in order to reduce or remove sin but to increase it. And the reason was so that grace could surpass sin, abounding to men in righteousness and salvation. The Law increased sin, our Lord Jesus bore the penalty of that sin, and the grace of God is multiplied. The Law was not to deliver men from sin but to declare men sinners so that the sin introduced by Adam could be remedied in Christ. The link between Adam and Christ is that both persons, though one man, have acted in a way that affects all men. Adam sinned, and his transgression brought condemnation upon all men. Christ’s act was one of righteousness, resulting in justification and life. Adam’s disobedience makes sinners of many; Christ’s obedience will make many righteous.

How differently things look now! It first appeared that God might be unfair, condemning us as sinners, in Adam. But now we see this was in order that He might receive us as saints, in Christ. If the imputation of Adam’s sin to all mankind resulted in condemnation, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness results in justification. The means for man’s justification is the same as the means for man’s condemnation—imputation. The work of one man both condemns and saves men.

Sunday – August 8, 2021 Romans Week 16 Romans 4:1-8 “Forgiveness is the Greatest Blessing”

Sunday – August 8, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 8, 2021

Romans 4:2-3
If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about — but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

In the Old and New Testament, Abraham is named in 230 verses. Only 95 of those references to Abraham (or Abram) are during the life of Abraham in Genesis 11–25:10. The remaining 135 references to Abraham, primarily in the Old Testament, point back to historical events in his life. The Old Testament prophets spoke of the righteousness and salvation God would provide in fulfillment of His promise to Abraham. That righteousness, like the righteousness of Abraham, was not a righteousness which men earned by their law-keeping, but a righteousness which God Himself would provide through His Messiah, the coming Savior.

Abraham is also a very prominent person in the New Testament. We see the distorted thinking of the Jews concerning Abraham especially in the Gospels. The Jews took pride in their physical descent from Abraham. Believing they had confirmed reservations in the kingdom of God, the Jews saw the Gentiles as those who would never enter into the blessings promised Abraham. Jesus must have rocked the boat of Jewish exclusivism when He marveled at and commended the faith of the Gentile centurion in Matthew 8:10-12. Because of his faith, the centurion would be at the banquet table, along with Abraham, but many of the “sons of the kingdom” would be cast into hell. Here was a revolutionary thought to the Jews, but one completely consistent with the Old Testament and with the gospel.

No wonder Paul devotes an entire chapter to Abraham’s justification by faith! Not only does Abraham’s justification prove the Jews wrong for trusting and boasting in Abraham as their physical forefather, but it proves Abraham to be the father of all those who believe in God, by faith. Abraham’s justification by faith is precisely the same as that which the gospel offers to all men, Jew or Gentile, today. It is justification based upon the person and work of God, believed by faith, accomplished by imputation. It is a free gift, available to those who are uncircumcised and who are not under the Law of Moses, like Abraham.

Justification by faith is God’s only way of saving men. It is also the same way in which men have been saved from the beginning of human history. Men were not saved by works in Old Testament times and are now saved by faith. Men have always been saved by faith, apart from works. Abraham is an excellent example of justification by faith because he lived in a day when neither the Law of Moses nor the rite of circumcision existed as a part of Israel’s religion. He was saved apart from any works, apart from circumcision, and apart from the Law. His justification, like ours, was based upon God’s faithfulness to His promise and not on human performance. It is a gift of God’s grace and not something earned.

Sunday – August 1, 2021 Romans Week 15 Romans 3:27-31 “The Problem of Pride”

Sunday – August 1, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 1, 2021

Roman 3:27-29
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

If I were to ask all of you to write down the sin that causes you the most trouble, I would probably get many responses listing anger, lust, lying, and greed. I might get a few entries for jealousy, hatred, gossip, and laziness. Maybe I’d get one or two for gluttony. But I wonder how many would list pride as the most difficult sin that they battle every day? It ought to be at the top of our lists, because it is the root of virtually every other sin.

If you get angry, it’s because you want your way and you didn’t get your way. The root of such anger is pride! If you lust, it’s because you imagine that you are so sexy that this woman would want to give herself to satisfy your desires, because you want to use her, not love her. Pride is at the root of such lust. In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis refers to pride as “The Great Sin”. After mentioning that pride led to the devil’s downfall, he says, “Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.” He contends that pride is a sin that we are very much aware of and dislike when we see it in others, but most of us are blind to it in ourselves.

I bring up pride because Paul does (3:27): “Where then is boasting?” But that leads to some questions: Why does he bring up boasting here? Why does he ask this string of other questions? Why didn’t he just end the discussion of justification by faith after 3:26? So, why does Paul hammer on this theme? I suggest that it was because Paul knew, both from personal experience and from the Scriptures, how deeply embedded in our fallen hearts is the pride that wants to take some of the credit for being our own savior. Even if we acknowledge that God is the primary agent in our salvation, we’re still prone to claim that we had something to do with it, so that we can boast.

We, like the Israelites forget, the blessings of God upon us are not due to our own righteousness or even God’s vast and immeasurable love for us, but due to God’s grace. The righteousness God requires is also that which He alone provides, by imputation. He does it in this way so there can be no boasting. There is no basis for pride. There should only be humble gratitude and thanksgiving to God for His unspeakable gift. I challenge you to think through the Scriptures, Old Testament and New, and to recall all of the times when God instructed His people to remember their roots, in order that they might be humbled and serve God in truth. How easy it is for us to forget that we are what we are by the grace of God, apart from anything we have done, or will do. To God be the glory!

Sunday – July 18, 2021 Romans Week 13 Romans 3:19-20 “Why Did God Give the Law”

Sunday – July 11, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 11, 2021

Roman 3:19-20
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

Romans chapter 3 began with a question concerning the superiority of the Jews over the Gentiles. Now Paul brushes this question aside with the reminder that we who are condemned should not trouble comparing ourselves with other condemned people. Everyone, Jew and Gentile, are unrighteous. Comparisons between the condemned is foolish and useless. The Law was not given to the Jews to cause them to feel superior to the Gentiles. The Law was given to men to show them how far short of God’s righteousness they fall. The Law was given to men to show them their need for grace.

Paul says the Law does three things to us: First, it stops our mouth: We have nothing to say. You can always tell someone is close to becoming a Christian when they shut up and stop arguing back. Self-righteous people are always saying, “But this — yes, but I do this — and I do that.” They are always arguing. But when they see the true meaning of the Law, their mouth is shut. Paul then tells us the Law was also given to demonstrate, “The whole world is held accountable to God.” The Law makes us realize there is no easy way, no way by which death suddenly is going to dissolve all things into everlasting darkness, to be forever forgotten. The whole world has to stand before God. Hebrews tells us directly, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27 KJV).

Finally, the Law reveals very clearly what sin is. What does the Law want of us? Jesus said that all the Law is summed up in one word: Love. All the Law asks us to do is to act in love- “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “love your neighbor as yourself”. Everything the Law states are simply loving ways of acting. When we face ourselves before the Law, we have to confess that many, many times we fail in love. We do not love as the Law commands.

While the Law was given to the Jews to shut their mouths, the Jews used the Law as an excuse to open their mouths. They opened their mouths in teaching the Law and then in judging others by it. They opened their mouths in objection to their equal treatment with other sinners. When the Law speaks as it has here, men’s mouths should be closed.  Not one word should be spoken in objection or in self-defense. The guilty sinner should listen to the sentence which God has pronounced in silence. Too much has already been said by the self-righteous. That is what the Law wants us to see, because, only then are we are ready to listen to what follows in the Book of Romans.

Sunday – June 6, 2021 Romans Week 9 Rom 2:6-16 “How Good is Good Enough”

Sunday – June 6, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 6, 2021

Romans 2:12-13
For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

If you have shared the gospel with people, you’ve heard the question, “Is God fair to judge those who have never heard about Jesus Christ?” Will a person really go to hell because they did not believe in Jesus when they never heard of Him? Another variation of the question is, “Won’t those who have done the best that they could do get into heaven?”

God will judge everyone with perfect justice. Paul establishes this point in verse 11, “For there is no partiality with God.” Paul anticipates our objection because he knows we are predisposed to think more highly of our own sense of morality. We think God will treat us more favorably than others who live just as they please. We are good people who obey the golden rule and they don’t!” Or, perhaps a more agnostic person would object, “It’s not fair for God to judge me for disobeying a standard that I knew nothing about! I’ve done the best that I could with what I knew. God won’t judge me, will He?”

Paul shows that God will impartially judge everyone for sinning against the light that they were given. His line of reasoning goes like this: The Gentile sinned without the Law, so he will perish without the Law. The Jew sinned under the Law and so he will be judged by the Law. In other words, as verse 6 stated, God “will render to each person according to his deeds.” Hearing the Law isn’t good enough; you must be a doer of the Law. Although the Gentiles did not have God’s Law, they all have an inner sense of right and wrong- a conscience. And, although occasionally they may do what is right, they all have sinned against what they know to be right. Their consciences and thoughts convict them of their guilt. But whatever they may think of themselves, the day is coming when God will judge not only outward deeds, but also the secrets of men through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the gospel.

At first glance, this doesn’t sound like good news! But, if there is no judgment for all sin, then there is no need for a Savior and thus no good news. If we do not acknowledge the coming judgment and wrath of God, we do not understand the gospel at all. The gospel does not offer good people the option of going on in our sin or shrugging it off as if it will not come under judgment if we do not repent. We need to understand the bad news of judgment in order to appreciate the good news of salvation through faith in Christ.

Sunday – March 28, 2021 Romans Week 2 “Tracing Righteousness Through Romans”

Sunday – March 28, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 28, 2021

Romans 3:21-23
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

The righteousness of God, one of the most prominent attributes of God in the Scriptures, is also one of the most elusive. Initially, distinguishing the righteousness of God from His holiness or His goodness seems difficult. This is because the righteousness of God is virtually synonymous with His justice. No one states this better than A.W. Tozer, “Justice, when used of God, is a name we give to the way God is, nothing more; and when God acts justly He is not doing so to conform to an independent criterion, but simply acting like Himself in a given situation.”

The righteousness of God and the justice of God are not secondary matters; they are primary. When summarizing the very essence of what the Old Testament Law was about, Amos and Micah both spoke first of justice and righteousness. The righteousness or justice of God is to be the guiding principle for the people of God. So often we think God’s righteousness is revealed in His judgment of sinners and His mercy by His salvation of sinners. The Scriptures teach that God’s righteousness is the cause of both condemnation and justification. He is righteous in saving sinners, as well as merciful and compassionate. God is righteous in all His dealings with men.

The righteousness of God is particularly important in relation to salvation. In Romans 3, Paul points out God not only justifies sinners (that is, He declares them righteous), but He is also shown to be just (righteous) in the process. Men have failed to live up to the standard of righteousness laid down by the Law (Romans 3:9-20). God is just in condemning all men to death, for all men without exception have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). God is just in condemning the unrighteous and also just in saving sinners. As Paul puts it, He is “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).

How can this be? God is just because His righteous anger has been satisfied. Justice was done on the cross of Calvary. God did not reduce the charges against men; nor change the standard of righteousness. God poured out the full measure of His righteous wrath upon His Son on the cross of Calvary. In Him, justice was meted out. All of those who trust in Him by faith are justified. Their sins forgiven because Jesus paid the full price; He suffered the full measure of God’s wrath in their place. And for those who reject the goodness and mercy of God at Calvary, they must pay the penalty for their sins because they would not accept the payment Jesus made in their place. The good news of the gospel is that salvation by grace is offered to all men, and by the righteousness of Jesus Christ, men may be forgiven of their sins and made righteous.