Posts Tagged 'Romans'

Panic Podcast: The Everything Bible Study, Part 5

Easter Monday Blessings, my friends.  Thanks for stopping by today.  On today’s podcast, we’re looking at Romans, and exploring things that you need to know about this great New Testament letter.  So have a listen.  It’s long, and we’ll conclude Romans next week and then take a quick look at Galatians.  God bless you as open the Word.

 

Theology of Romans, Part 6

Walking-After-the-Spirit

Walking in the Spirit

Romans 8:3, 4

 

We aren’t saved from sin’s grasp by knowing the commandments of God because we can’t and don’t keep them, but God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent his own Son in a human body like ours—except that ours are sinful—and destroyed sin’s control over us by giving himself as a sacrifice for our sins. So now we can obey God’s laws if we follow after the Holy Spirit and no longer obey the old evil nature within us.  (TLB)

Verse 2 is positively triumphant, but incomplete:

For the power of the life-giving Spirit—and this power is mine through Christ Jesus—has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death.  (TLB)

It’s incomplete in the sense that Paul’s declaration of his freedom from “the vicious circle of sin and death” is given as a statement of fact, yet how this freedom was gained in not given.  Yes, it is the result of work of the Holy Spirit, but surely there is more to it than that.  Verse 3 tells us what exactly the Holy Spirit does in us to bring about this freedom from sin:   God put into effect a different plan to save us.

Background

The law (the system of Jewish teachings and practices) was given by God.  Because it came from the very heart of God, the law was completely just and holy and, therefore, good.  But, as perfect as the law was, it was ultimately ineffectual because of the weaknesses of man’s flesh.  This raises a question in the minds of some Bible readers:  Can man’s sinfulness and weakness really limit the working of God?  Questions like this one are more often than not the result of ignorance of the what the Bible really says.  The more pertinent question is this:  What was it the law could not do?  Contrary to what some may think, the law was never given to save a soul.  That was not God’s purpose in giving Moses the Ten Commandments.  Simply stated, the law could not make a person holy; it could not sanctify anybody.

Weak flesh

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh…  (Romans 8:3a  NKJV)

The law of God was rendered weak on account of our weaknesses; our sinful nature.  The law, with all it’s righteous demands, amounted to nothing because man could not fulfill those demands.  Without God’s help, there was simply NO WAY any Jew could live the way God wanted them to.   Similarly today, there is simply NO WAY any human being can live a life completely pleasing to God on his own.  He needs God’s help, and this is why these verses are so important.

As Paul previously taught, the law was very good at pointing out sin, but it could never stop sin because it was “weak through the flesh.”   In fact, man’s sinful nature actually found the law appealing in a perverse way.  Instead of recognizing what God’s law was really about, man, because of his sinful nature, took that law and changed it into something God  never intended it to become:  a  means of grace.  Man took something spiritual and turned it into something carnal.  Man took what should have been a blessing and turned it into a curse.

The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.  (1 Corinthians 2:14  RSV)

Man without Christ is “unspiritual,” psychikos.  As such, he is blind to that which he cannot relate to:  the spirit and the things of the spirit.  He is cut off, not only from God, but from the things of God because of his sinful nature.  Therefore, he cannot have any kind of a relationship with God even through the law of Paul’s day.   Instead of using the law to draw to close to God, sinful  man foolishly and arrogantly tried to use the law to make himself holy.

It’s interesting to see how the Jewish rabbis added more and more rules and regulations to God’s law in a vain attempt to make it easier for man to obey the essential tenets of the law.  How ridiculous it is to think education can save man from his sin.  The Jewish religious leaders thought this in Paul’s day, and secular progressives in our own society think we can educate or even legislate man into a better human being.  History and experience shows neither education nor legislation can do this.  Only God, through the Holy Spirit, can.

Divine intervention

…God put into effect a different plan to save us… (Romans 8:3b  TLB)

The weakness of the human spirit demands God’s intervention.  Nothing else can possibly help man get over his sin problem.  His weakness—his totally depraved nature—can do nothing to help himself.  The law made demands which the Jew couldn’t possibly meet, then that very same law condemned them when those demands were not met.  The conundrum meant that it was up to God to do for man what he could not do for himself.  Of course, the law’s real intent was to show man just how sinful and helpless he was in the first place.  Therefore, this “different plan” wasn’t really a new plan or a contingency plan at all, but rather one God knew would kick in one day.

And that is the way it was with us before Christ came. We were slaves to Jewish laws and rituals, for we thought they could save us.  But when the right time came, the time God decided on, he sent his Son, born of a woman, born as a Jew, to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law so that he could adopt us as his very own sons.  (Galatians 4:3—5  TLB)

Once again, let’s remember that we are not Jews; we were never enslaved to the law.  However, we are enslaved to this idea that good behavior alone can change our standing before God; that righteous deeds produce righteous character.  The fact is, they do not, any more than the law saved a single Jewish soul.  It did not.

He sent his own Son in a human body like ours—except that ours are sinful—and destroyed sin’s control over us by giving himself as a sacrifice for our sins.  (Romans 8:3c  TLB)

Surely Romans 8:3 must be one of the most significant verses in all of Scripture as it relates to the nature of Christ.   This statement is the very bedrock of the faith:  the virgin birth!

Paul chose his words with supreme care, lest he be misunderstood.  Paul does not say the Father sent His son to us in a body exactly like ours, but in one similar to ours.  Truth is, Christ’s body was a body of flesh before and after the resurrection, in this sense it was like ours.  And yet it was essentially different because Christ’s body was not of the same nature as ours.  He looked just like us in every way, but He was as different from us as a straight line is from a circle!  He couldn’t be the same, otherwise He couldn’t have been the Lamb without blemish.  If Jesus Christ had been the son of Joseph the carpenter, then He would have been exactly like us:  corrupted by sin and subject to sin as we all are.  His nature would have been exactly like ours:  sinful.  But because He was no ordinary baby, being born of a virgin and whose Father was the Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ was all divine (from His Father’s side) and yet all human (from His mother’s side) at the same time!  Indeed, it all  makes your head spin, proving the truthfulness of 1 Corinthians 2:14.

Moving from Christ’s body to His Work, then.  His work was “to be a sin offering,” NIV.   It has been noted that the NIV’s translation may be a little too intense.   The idea Paul may be trying to put across is simply that Christ’s mission was to deal effectively with sin, thus making it possible for His people to live the kind of life demanded of them.

This is why the virgin birth is so important.  It was in the very realm of sin—the realm of the flesh—that our Lord came and defeated the tyrant known as Sin.  The work of Jesus, and in fact His very Person, pronounced the doom of sin.  Dodd comments:

By His life of perfect obedience, and His victorious death and resurrection, the reign of sin over human nature has been broken.

Yes, thanks to Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, sin is a defeated enemy.

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.   But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1 Corinthians 15:56, 57  NKJV)

The reason for it all

Verse 4 gives us the reason for verse 3:

So now we can obey God’s laws if we follow after the Holy Spirit and no longer obey the old evil nature within us.  (TLB)

…that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  (NKJV)

Jesus “condemned sin in the flesh,” thus enabling us to live as God demands us.  John Murray wrote,

Jesus not only blotted out sin’s guilt and brought us night to God, He also vanquished sin as power and set us free from its enslaving dominion.  And this could not have been done except in the flesh.  The  battle was joined and the triumph secured in that same flesh which is in us the seat and agent of sin.

Jesus conquered the sin in us, and in doing so, He freed us up to fulfill the “righteous requirement of the law.”  What does that mean?  Paul himself gives us the answer:

Pay all your debts except the debt of love for others—never finish paying that! For if you love them, you will be obeying all of God’s laws, fulfilling all his requirements.  (Romans 13:8  TLB)

Love does no wrong to anyone. That’s why it fully satisfies all of God’s requirements. It is the only law you need.   (Romans 13:10  TLB)

And where does this “love” come from?

…the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  (Romans 5:5  NKJV)

The righteousness demanded by the law is an absolutely perfect manifestation of God’s love.  This makes complete sense:  God is perfect, therefore He could demand no less than perfection.  This perfection, though, is not native to human beings:

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… (Romans 3:23  NKJV)

As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one… (Romans 3:10  NKJV)

The thing is, though, God not only redeemed us from the “curse of the law” and the guilt and corruption of sin, He  made it a reality for His children to live righteously.  There is a lot confusion around this idea of sanctification as a “second work of grace.”  This the Bible does NOT teach.  The Bible does not teach that there are two works of grace:  justification and sanctification, and that the latter ought to be sought after.  What the Bible DOES teach is this:

And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.   (Philippians 1:6  TLB)

A justified person IS a sanctified person.  Period.  Now, in the practical sense, as we discussed previously, the redeemed person declared justified and made righteous must now live a sanctified life; he must exert some effort to live up to his new life.  How is this possible?  God makes it possible!

…if we follow after the Holy Spirit and no longer obey the old evil nature within us.  (Romans 8:3b  TLB)

Here is why so many Christians fail in their attempts at holiness.  Real sanctification is MORE than just living right.  It is MORE than just you exercising self control.  The Bible makes it clear that sanctification is a work of Christ in the believer that begins at the moment of our conversion.  It is, as Calvin might have said, part of “perseverance.”  Here in Romans, our “perseverance” is described as “following after the Holy Spirit” (TLB).  When we are born again, the Lord begins a work in us and, just like real babies eventually learn to walk, so we must also learn to walk spiritually, in the footsteps of the Spirit.  Following after the Spirit is learning to discern what God wants for us, then with the help of the Holy Spirit, living the way God wants us to.

And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy—the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you.  (Romans 12:1, 2  TLB)

Theology of Romans, Part 5

no-condemnation-3

No Condemnation

Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (NKJV)

What a magnificent statement of fact! There was not a doubt in Paul’s mind when he wrote those words so long ago. In the Greek, it’s even more powerful—

No possible condemnation is there, therefore, for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Barnhouse)

1. “Therefore…”

What is the “therefore” there for? It actually connects 8:1 with what went before. Specifically, when we read the “therefore” of 8:1, our minds should flash back to Paul’s teachings in:

  • Chapter 3: the fact and truth of justification;

  • Chapter 6: our real union with Jesus Christ;

  • Chapter 7: our complete identification with Him.

In light of these three chapters, therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ; to whom these three chapters apply, there is no chance of any condemnation. Ever. How could God possibly condemn those He has justified; those who are spiritually joined to His Son; those who confessed faith in everything He did for them on the Cross? How could God condemn one He has previously declared—

…to be good in his sight if they have faith in Christ to save them from God’s wrath. (Romans 4:5b TLB)

No wonder there is no possibility of any Christian standing condemned before God by God! After everything He did for that redeemed person, for God to turn around and condemn him would make God a cruel, psychotic cosmic prankster. And He is definitely not that!

We will get to the rest of Romans 8 in due course, but for now, it should be understood that this chapter continues the idea of the believer’s sanctification, with an emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit. Up to this point in Romans, Paul has barely mentioned the Holy Spirit, but in this chapter, he mentions the third Member of the Trinity some 20 times! Some Bible scholars refer to this chapter as “the Pentecost of Romans.” Why is the Holy Spirit mentioned so often now? It’s because true sanctification is possible only as the Holy Spirit works in the heart and life of a believer. John Knox:

The Spirit is the theme of this culminating section of the argument that began in 6:1 with the question, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may about?”

The only way a redeemed, justified, born again individual may experience victory over sin is by letting the Holy Spirit work in him. The Holy Spirit sanctifies our lives (a practical work) and He guarantees our final redemption (a spiritual work). The Law (for Jews) and our own grit and determination (all people) can never sanctify us actually; sanctification is more than just a cessation of sin; at its core, it is a spiritual work and may only be accomplished spiritually.

And in the same way—by our faith—the Holy Spirit helps us with our daily problems and in our praying. For we don’t even know what we should pray for nor how to pray as we should, but the Holy Spirit prays for us with such feeling that it cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows, of course, what the Spirit is saying as he pleads for us in harmony with God’s own will. (Romans 8:26, 27 TLB)

What a precious gift the Holy Spirit is! He does so much for us and in us. But above all, the Holy Spirit and His work in us is completely indispensable. A life that is pleasing and glorifying to God must be lived in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Don’t drink too much wine, for many evils lie along that path; be filled instead with the Holy Spirit and controlled by him. (Ephesians 5:18 TLB)

2. “…now no condemnation”

The first word, “now” is awkward in this sentence, but essential. When is there to be “no condemnation?” The answer is NOW—right now. The blessing of “no condemnation” may be experienced immediately. In other words, believers don’t have to wait until the great by-and-by to discover the fact that they stand free and clear, forgiven and declared “not guilty” in God’s sight. It is a present reality! We stand not condemned right now. You may feel condemned, but in fact you aren’t and can never be. Our “no condemnation” is an objective truth independent of you, what you have done or not done. It’s all about God, not you. Now, later on in this chapter, we will deal with what the Holy Spirit works in you to perfect your sanctification, but for now understand that regardless of your present experience, you stand absolutely not guilty before God and, therefore, not condemned.

No wonder Paul wrote about “joy” earlier in this letter. Because of your new living relationship with Jesus Christ and subsequent new dead relationship to sin, you can walk through this world sin, sadness, and sorrow serene in the knowledge that you are free from all that! You may have the assurance that your sins are forgiven and your guilt erased right now.

3. “…for those who are in Christ Jesus”

The exclusivity of Christianity rubs against the grain of our modern sensibilities, but the truth is, Christianity is exclusive in the sense that its blessings are ONLY for those who have experienced the new birth—those who belong to Jesus. If you don’t belong to Jesus, you stand unforgiven and condemned before God and there isn’t a thing you can do about it. You must be “in Christ Jesus” if you want what Paul is writing about in Romans.

In the original, there are no verse or chapter breaks, so 8:1 is not a new topic but a continuation of what Paul began in chapter 7. Believers, including himself, have been set free not just from sin and condemnation, but also from the Law and the curse of the Law. The Law, which is not evil—something Paul bent over backwards to state—is incapable of saving anybody, and it doesn’t have the power to remove the guilt and stain of sin.

Sin fooled me by taking the good laws of God and using them to make me guilty of death. (Romans 7:11 TLB)

Paul, no matter how he tried to follow the Law, felt as though he were drowning in his sin.

I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to—what I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. (Romans 7:15, 16 TLB)

Now, you probably aren’t a Jew, but you more than likely can relate to what Paul wrote in these two verses! We all struggle with sin and temptation. Yes we know what the Word declares, and we know what’s right and what’s sinful, yet we are drawn to sin like a moth drawn to a flame. How, we ask like Paul did, is it possible to pray, go to church, read and study the Word, yet be tempted to sin and often give into that temptation? We get angry with ourselves and frustrated with God.

In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin. So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin. Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? (Romans 7:24, 25 TLB)

Have you ever felt like that? You probably have, and thank goodness Paul gives us the answer to his question:

Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free. (Romans 7:25b TLB)

The apostle recognized, as every believer must, that it is the work of Jesus and only His work that cleansed our soul, ridding it of the guilt and stain of sin. We can do nothing to cure our sin problem. Jesus Christ set us free from our enslavement to sin and God the Father, our Lord and Judge, declares us “not guilty,” eliminating the possibility of any kind of condemnation from His court forever.

From the obvious relief expressed in the last statement of chapter 7 to the triumphant and joyous declaration of chapter 8:1, we see a truly marvelous fact that ought to shine a light on our true standing before God. There is not a Christian anywhere in the world who should feel inferior or condemned because to entertain those feelings is to give credence to them and that shows a disregard for what Jesus Christ did for you. That’s not to say we should feel proud or self-sufficient in any way; rather in humble thankfulness we need to realize that ours is no lowly position. Consider:

But God is so rich in mercy; he loved us so much that even though we were spiritually dead and doomed by our sins, he gave us back our lives again when he raised Christ from the dead—only by his undeserved favor have we ever been saved—and lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ, where we sit with him in the heavenly realms—all because of what Christ Jesus did. (Ephesians 2:4—6 TLB)

That is our present position! We don’t sit around waiting for this to happen! We are sitting with Christ in the heavenly realms NOW. God, the Alpha and Omega, the One who sees the beginning from the end, sees believers as they will be. We may “feel” unworthy and not good enough—and in ourselves this may be true—but the facts of the Word are clear: our lives have been given back to us! Don’t let your feelings condemn you! Jesus, by His work on the Cross, elevated us to the greatest heights of all: HIS. We are with Him when we are in Him. And all believers are IN Christ.

When the Great Book is opened in Heaven, there will be recorded in it the names of all those who are in Christ. Those whose names are not written in that book are the Christless: those who, for their whole lives, may have relied on their good works and moral lives or their religion as their hope for a place in Heaven. Unfortunately for them, on this point God’s Word is abundantly clear. Only those who are in Christ will find eternity in Heaven.

Those who aren’t in Christ can’t blame God the Father:

For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 TLB)

Nor can they Jesus, the Son of God:

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10b NKJV)

And they cannot in good conscience blame the Holy Spirit:

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth… (John 16:13a NKJV)

Jesus Christ came into the world to do for sinners what they could never do for themselves: save them. Salvation is not possible apart from Jesus Christ.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:18 NIV)

Theology of Romans, Part 2

what-is-justification-by-faith-part-3-21502153

Justification is a glorious blessing from God.  Last time, we looked at some of the blessings of justification.  This time, let’s look at the “nuts and bolts” of this piece of theology Romans.

1.  Who does God justify?

The answer to this question is truly amazing because it cuts against the grain of religious thinking.  Almost everybody—at least everybody who subscribes to “Hallmark theology”—naturally thinks that God wants good people in heaven and that the only way to get there is to do good things and live well-behaved, well-ordered lives.  Of course, that’s what unthinking, Biblically illiterate people always think:  their entrance through the pearly gates is guaranteed by their efforts.  But that is far, far from the truth.  As Christians, we don’t take our theology from Hallmark cards; we take our theology from the Bible, and here’s what the Bible says in answer to this question:

But didn’t [Abraham] earn his right to heaven by all the good things he did? No, for being saved is a gift; if a person could earn it by being good, then it wouldn’t be free—but it is! It is given to those who do not work for it. For God declares sinners to be good in his sight if they have faith in Christ to save them from God’s wrath.  (Romans 4:4, 5 TLB)

When we were utterly helpless, with no way of escape, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners who had no use for him.  (Romans 5:6  TLB)

In case these verses are misunderstood or misinterpreted, this one clinches the Biblical truth that the only people God saves are the UNGODLY:

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.  (Romans 5:8  TLB)

All of this means, of course, is that Hell will be full of good people.  The Bible makes it abundantly clear throughout, but especially here in Romans, that if you really want to be saved, you must come to the stark realization that you are UNGODLY.  You must without hesitation accept that fact and then—and ONLY then—will you become eligible for salvation.

This is a huge pill for religious people to swallow.  Religious people are those who rely on their “good deeds” to tip the scales in their favor.  Religion complicates what God sees as a very simple process.  To be saved takes, not a lifetime of hard work and effort, but a moment’s decision.

…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  (Romans 10:9, 10  NKJV)

2.  How can God possibly justify someone who is guilty?

This is another question, like the last one, with an answer so profoundly surprising as to be almost unbelievable.  The answer to this question is also the answer to another one:  Why did Christ die?

It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.  (Romans 4:24, 25  NKJV)

The “it” of verse 24 is “righteousness.”  What Paul is talking about here is “imputed righteousness”; that is, a righteousness (Christ’s, as we learned last time) foreign to the one who now possesses it.  Christ died so that His perfect righteousness could be imputed—given—to the unrighteous and ungodly.

Jesus Christ was “delivered up” on account of OUR offenses—our sins and our lack of righteousness.  So, how can God justify someone who is guilty?  The real question these two verses raises is:  How can God punish the only One who was NEVER guilty?  Jesus Christ was punished in the sinner’s stead so that that sinner may be given Christ’s righteousness.  God is able to justify the guilty because atonement has already been made for them.

Now we rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done in dying for our sins—making us friends of God.   (Romans 5:11  TLB)

Christ’s work on the Cross secured first of all the sinner’s forgiveness, then his justification.  It is those who believe in Christ that are justified.

3.  Do man’s good works have anything to do with his justification?

Biblical justification is a theology that sounds almost too good to be true.  It flies in the face of religion, which tries to complicate it and it flies in the face those who believe in personal responsibility and accountability.  This is where faith comes in to play!  We can do NOTHING to justify ourselves in God’s sight.  We can do NOTHING to appear better than we really are.  We MUST rely solely on what Jesus did for us on the Cross.  Mote’s powerful lyrics come to mind:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

It’s hard for a lot of Christians to “wholly lean on Jesus’ name”!  They always think it takes something more; that they have to “do” something, which is why legalistic religions seem to thrive.

Now do you see it? No one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what the law commands. For the more we know of God’s laws, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying them; his laws serve only to make us see that we are sinners.  (Romans 3:20  TLB)

Now, it is true that if a person does the best he can he will be justified in the sight of other people, but not in the sight of God.

Don’t you remember that even our father Abraham was declared good because of what he did when he was willing to obey God, even if it meant offering his son Isaac to die on the altar?  (James 2:21  TLB)

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.  (Romans 4:2  NKJV)

God sees no good works coming from a bad heart.  A person hoping their good works will get noticed by God and somehow tip the scales in their favor is simply proving their heart is still bad.

4.  How does God justify man?

Simply put, God justifies man judicially.  God, as the Judge of universe, makes a declaration in man’s favor.  In Romans 4, there are three words occur over and over again that clearly express the nature of God’s justification:  counted, reckoned, and imputed.  The righteousness of God is, therefore, counted, reckoned, and imputed to the believer.  God does it all.

But these three words, wonderful as they are to man, cut the other way as far as the Son of Man is concerned.  Our sins were counted, reckoned, and imputed to Christ as He hung on the Cross.  God did that, too.

But now God has shown us a different way to heaven—not by “being good enough” and trying to keep his laws, but by a new way (though not new, really, for the Scriptures told about it long ago). Now God says he will accept and acquit us—declare us “not guilty”—if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like.  (Romans 3:21, 22  TLB)

5.  Is justification achieved by simply believing?

As hard as it may be for you to grasp, the answer to this question is a resounding a YES!

But isn’t this unfair for God to let criminals go free, and say that they are innocent? No, for he does it on the basis of their trust in Jesus who took away their sins.  (Romans 3:26b  TLB)

It’s not just a belief in God, for even the demons believe in God!  It’s belief or trust in Jesus, specifically, what Jesus accomplished on the Cross.

The simplicity of it all!  Have you ever wondered why such a deep and profound doctrine is so simple?  It’s because of the love of God!  When God looks at this world of ours, what do you think He sees?   He faces a world of sinners, desperately lost and stuck in their rebellion and absolutely miserable in their sin.  There is not a thing man can do to help himself out of his lost, pathetic state.  It’s all up to God.  It was up to God to find a way to rescue man without He Himself getting tainted by man’s filth.

Can a man hold fire against his chest and not be burned?  Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet?  (Proverbs 6:27, 28  TLB)

Can God help a filthy sinner without getting dirty?  God says:  Absolutely I can!  God does it all for the believer HIS WAY.  Only the act of believing is left up to us.  By faith, we count on God’s Word being true.  By faith, we believe Jesus did exactly enough to save us; that there is nothing left for us to do, save believe.


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