THE LETTER OF PAUL TO THE ROMANS
The Way to Experience Godís Righteousness (Part One)
Todayís lesson falls in the overall outline of Romans in the following way:
Theme: The Faithfulness and Righteousness of God (1:16-17)
I. The Need for God's Righteousness (1:18-3:20)
(1) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (2) for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (3) For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, (4) in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (5) For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (6)for the mind set on the flesh is death but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, (7) because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God for it does not subject itself to the Law of God for it is not even able to do so (8) and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (9) However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. (10) and if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is alive because of righteousness. (11) But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
The Jews believed that there were only 2 ways to live life: (1) by keeping the Law and (2) by doing your own thing (lawlessness). They claimed that only the first way led to a righteous life. Paul rejects both of these ways, claiming that the third way was the only way to experience God's righteous life: "But now APART FROM THE LAW the righteousness of God has been manifested" (Rom. 3:21).
In order to feel the full impact of Rom. 8:1, you need to reflect on what Paul said about living life under the Law in 7:14-23. He describes the legalistic life as one of frustration and despair. The Law simply reveals our Adamic nature for what it really is: a rebel. He concludes this description with one of the most heart-wrenching cries in the Bible: "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" His response: "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord." It is at this point that Paul says: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Because of what He has done, Jesus has lifted from us the burden of the Law and removed from us the tyranny of lawlessness. When we experience condemnation and the feeling of being beaten down, we are living unrealistically because there is no more condemnation left for the Christian. Christ experienced all our condemnation on the cross so that we no longer have to experience it ("He became sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" 2 Cor. 5:21).
How united, how identified are we with Christ? Whereas Paul thinks that he is only persecuting Christians, Christ explains to Paul that whenever he persecutes Christians, he is persecuting none other than Jesus Himself (Acts 9:4-5). Paul says that whenever a young Christian man enters into an illicit sexual relationship with a prostitute, he is so one with Christ that he actually brings Christ Himself into that illicit relationship (1 Cor. 6:15). Jesus says that we are so one with Christ that whenever we neglect the Christian poor, we have neglected none other than Jesus Himself (Matt. 25:40)..
The Spirit of Christ who comes into us at the time of baptism is the One who unites us, identifies us with Christ. From this point on, Paul will be referring to us being "in Christ" as he speaks about the Spirit of Christ living in the believer. The Spirit places us "in Christ."
N.B.: According to Marshal Taylor, the concept of "in Christ" is at the heartbeat of Catholic theology.
Notice that whereas we are no longer under the Law of Moses or under any man-made set of laws, we are still under a law, or better, under a principleóthe Law of the Spirit. Fill in the blanks to see the difference between what the Law of the Spirit produces and what the Law of Moses produces: "for the Law of the Spirit of __________ in Christ Jesus has set you free from the Law of ___________ and of ____________." (See 2 Cor. 3:7-11 for more of Paul's description of the Law.)
In verse 3 Paul claims that God did the very thing the Law of Moses could not doómake us right with God and help us experience God's life (righteousness) on a daily basis. Fill in the blank to see what prevented the Law from making us right with God: "For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the ___________________, God did." The problem (for the umpteenth time) was not with the Law; the problem was with the flesh. (The solution though now that we have the Spirit in us is not to live by the Law of Moses: the Law which activates our fleshly, Adamic AND rebellious nature. Our flesh, not the Spirit, is what is attracted to the Law. Flesh and Law of Moses go together; the Spirit, which has no need of law, and Grace go together.)
Paul next describes what God did in order to make us right with Him and help us experience daily Christ's righteous life: "God did, sending His own Son in the likeness of ____________ _________________, and as an ______________ for sin, He ______________________ sin in the __________________."
The first thing God did was to have Jesus come to earth in the likeness of sinful flesh. This does not mean that Jesus had a sin nature. He did have a human nature; yet because He never sinned, it was never sin nature. Yet in every other respect He was exactly like us (Heb. 2:17). This was important because if Jesus was going to give us victory in our situation, He had to enter our situation completely. By dying and never having sinned, Jesus condemned sin. Until the time of Jesus sin had conquered every person who ever lived. Jesus though won the victory in His war with sin and human nature. Because He was victorious, He is able to extend that victory to us by placing His divine nature now in you and me. On the cross Jesus died a completely righteous Man who had never sinned; therefore, He is able not only to switch our unrighteousness for His righteousness, He also comes to live in us after the resurrection so that we can experience His righteous life daily. THAT is the secret of the righteous life.
Because God did this through sending Jesus to us in the likeness of sinful flesh, what has been fulfilled in us (Rom. 8:4)?
Because Christ has placed His Spirit in us so that we can experience His righteous life, how should we now live (Rom. 8:4)
Paul now launches into a discussion contrasting the life under flesh (the Law of Moses or lawlessness) with the life of the Spirit. According to Paul those who are according to the flesh set their minds on what? Those who are according to the Spirit set their minds on what?
According to Paul (8:6) the person who lives life in the flesh (under the Law, etc.) will experience what? What will the Spirit-led person experience?
According to verse 7 what is true of the person who lives in the flesh (the person who lives either under the Law or according to his own wisdom)? In other words, he is hostile towards what?
In other words, Paul was persecuting the very God he thought he was serving by killing Christians! Before we jump on the Jews, we need to admit that the same is true of the Christian who does not follow Jesus but instead lives according to his own wisdom. These people may be moral; however, they are hostile towards God.
According to verse 9 what is one characteristic that is definitely true of the Christian?
According to v. 9 what is true of the person who does not have the Spirit living in him?
According to v. 10 although sin is going to kill our physical bodies (unless Christ returns first), what nevertheless is true about you?
According to v. 11 what did the Spirit do for Jesus that He will also do for you and me?
Although Paul limits his discussion to the Spirit in Rom. 8, he nevertheless addresses this same topic elsewhere in his letters. According to Eph. 5:18, what does Paul command the Christian to do? (Notice that this command is in the present tense; in other words, we are to obey this command continually. Also, notice that it is in the passive voice, that is, it is something which must be done to us, something we cannot do ourselves. Being filled with God's Spirit is an act of God which we receive.)
In order for God to fill us with His Spirit, we must be willing to follow Jesus (the Spirit) on a continual basis. Christ does speak to us. He is so much a communicator that He calls Himself "the Word" (John 1:1). The different ways Jesus speaks to us include (1) the Word, (2) His Spirit, (3) prayer, (4) circumstances, and (5) godly people.
The primary way Jesus speaks to us is through His Word. Read Colossians 3:16. In Eph. 5:18 Paul commands us to be filled with the Spirit. What does he command us to be filled with in Col. 3:16? (The implication is that being filled with the Spirit is the same as being filled with the Word.)
The Spirit and God's Word have a unique relationship. According to 2 Pet. 1:21 what is the relationship between God's Word and the Spirit?
One of the major thrusts of conservative Protestant Christianity in the past 30+ years has been an emphasis on personal devotions and inductive Bible study. While they definitely have their place, they are not the primary ways the NT talks about the way to receive God's Word. Most of the time NT Christians received the Word during worship services and group Bible studies. This only makes sense since not many Bible were in circulation at that time. Jesus though places a premium on group worship and Bible study (Matt. 18:20). The danger in restricting myself to personal study is that many times I get out of the Bible what I bring to it. Sometimes I hear only what I want to hear. Priests and teachers though are not going to communicate to you what you necessarily want to hear.
You may feel though that God does not speak to you. If that is true, ask yourself the 2 following questions: (1) are you going to obey whatever He says to you? (2) are you spending time in God's Word? If one of these is not true, you will not hear from God.
|Col. 3:18||wives submissive to husbands|
|Col. 3:20||children submissive to parents|
|Col. 3:22||employees respect employers (masters)|
|Col. 4:1||employers (masters) fair to employees|
Spirituality, holiness, righteousness are ALWAYS relation-oriented. We think we are holy because we don't watch "R"-rated movies. We don't need to watch "R"-rated movies; however, that won't make us holy or spiritual. Jesus said the 2 great commandments are (1) love God and (2) love your neighbor as yourself. When you have truly loved God and your neighbor, you will treat them rightly, holy, spiritually.