Landon, a disciple of Jesus Christ, to the Anchored Daily listeners of Bethel
church, who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace
from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
like my first century introduction? I hope you’re ready to put on your first
century hats today because we have the honor of looking at the first three
chapters of the book of Romans, Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. You may not actually have to try too hard to
identify with some of the struggles the church faced during that time. You probably don’t have the exact concerns
people of this time had. I mean, you
don’t need to be worried about your children becoming enslaved if you fall
behind on payments, but I think you’ll find both their circumstance and Paul’s
wise counsel are as applicable then as they are now.
soak in this ancient environment, here’s a little context. The Jews had been driven out of Rome for
about five years and the church was kept going by the Gentile believers. The Jews have come back now and let’s just
say that both groups approach their life in Christ from different angles. Maybe you can think of a time in recent
memory when there was a disagreement in the church about how to approach things.
It’s hard, isn’t it? In the Roman church, it is creating division
and disagreement, making it difficult to live and worship together, because
frankly, some people are just wrong. Or
hasn’t even actually met these people yet, but his hope is that this letter can
help unite the Jewish and Gentile Christians.
His desire is also that the Gentiles would become obedient Christians
for the sake of Christ.
you a little fly-over of our section, chapters one through three, Paul begins
with an introduction and greeting where he already starts laying down some
fundamentals of who Jesus is and the power of the gospel. He moves on to explain why God’s wrath
against sinners is completely righteous and justifiable.
keep an eye out for things that the author repeats. Did you notice that Paul asks a lot of
rhetorical questions? It’s a theme
through the whole letter, but he kicks it off in chapter 2 when he asks seven
different questions in that chapter alone and then a whopping eighteen in
chapter three! He also begins responding
to his own questions with, “No way, Jose!”
Ok. He doesn’t actually say that
EXACTLY, but it IS a translation, so he COULD have said the Greek equivalent,
right? The ESV translation says, “By no
means!” He is really being a straight talker in the hopes of setting them on
the right path together.
I have to
admit, some of the things he talks about are really convicting. Chapter 2 especially stood out to me. Paul camps on the idea of judgement, both our
judgement of others and God’s judgement.
He talks a lot about our hypocrisy, teaching one thing and living
another. Chapter 2 verses 23 and 24
really jumped off the page to me. I like
the way the New Living Translation expresses it.
are so proud of knowing the law, but you dishonor God by breaking it. 24 No
wonder the Scriptures say, “The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of
of my fellow religious people join me in saying, “Oof.” Our boasting in the rules we follow only ends
up discrediting God when we fail to measure up to our own standards. #holierthanthou coming back tarnish our
reputation, but more than that, God’s reputation.
this particular verse stands out to me because of a very clear memory I have
from when I was in high school. I was
hanging out with my older brother and his friends, who had attended church with
their parents since they were little.
Somehow Christianity came up and I’ll never forget how one of them said,
“I’ve decided not to be Christian because I can’t stand all of the
hypocrites.” I can’t say I was a super
outspoken or devoted believer at that time, but I felt a profound sadness. I could understand his sentiment and although
I didn’t agree with his choice, his observation was sadly accurate.
when we make ourselves out to be really good at following rules, it ends up
becoming a trap, that WE fall into, and that harms God’s
reputation. Not a pretty sight. Fortunately, Paul clears it up, not by
condemnation or shame, but by returning to our identity. In chapter 2 verse 29 he answers one of his
rhetorical questions, “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.”
May we be
a people, not defined by the rules we keep, but the hearts we possess. May we live a life example of humility,
forgiveness, selflessness, and goodness, that we would be a credit to God’s
reputation and not a liability. May we
hold our brokenness (because it’s there!) with honesty and ever return to the
grace poured out by Jesus for our righteousness, just like Paul states in
chapter 3, verse 22, “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus
Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”
join me in prayer?
are the undeserving recipients of your righteousness, your goodness, your
grace. May we hold tight to you and
loose our grip on the letter of the law.
Holy Spirit, help us give you space to move in our hearts that we would
bring glory to God living out the gospel. Amen.