How To Get Right Apart Of Rules?

by The Chapel

Covered: Romans 7-16
Scripture Memory: Money / Matthew 6:19-21
You are halfway through the book of Romans!  Keep going.  If you’ve missed chapters 1-6, you’ll want to read that for sure. 

The Book of Romans describes in detail the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.  The impact this book has on people is far-reaching.  Reading it helped bring Augustine of Hippo (St. Augustine), the Reformer Martin Luther, and the revivalist John Wesley to faith.  It affected these men and their influence on generations of their disciples. 

Its primary message is how to be right (morally) apart from keeping rules.  It also addresses how to stay right!  I remember asking the then retired Dr. Charles Ryrie (the Ryrie Study Bible) to help me with a paper on Romans 3 while I was in seminary.  He was a family friend of my wife’s parents, and we had become friends.  After stating clearly that he would not do the work for me, he agreed to work with me.  We sat across from each other at his desk in his study poring over the Greek text for verses 21-22: But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, …(NIV).  

That was many years ago. While I don’t remember my grade, I do remember trying to grasp the magnitude of the truth of those words and verses.  They have changed the course of nations and peoples. 

Let me give you a simple overview. 

  1. The need for righteousness, chapters 1-3:20
  2. The provision for righteousness through faith in Jesus, chapters 3:21-5:21
  3. The application of righteousness through the sanctification (growing in godliness) through the Holy Spirit, chapters 6-8.
  4. The righteousness of God and unbelieving Israel chapters 9-11.
  5. The Righteous life of a follower transformed by God chapters 12-16.

Chapters 9-11 address a very complex question:  Has God forgotten Israel.  It is easy to get lost in these chapters.  Therefore, let me share some thoughts from John Lennox.

The first main argument is based on the fact that not all ethnic Israelites are the genuine people of God. His discussion involves considering the sovereignty of God in history regarding the role of different individuals and the nations descended from them. The second main argument is that Israel’s unbelief is culpable. God has made every provision for them. Paul goes through every excuse that might be raised to let Israel off the hook and concludes in each case that they are responsible for their unbelief. The third main argument concentrates on the fact that there are some Israelites, like Paul, who do believe in Jesus. Indeed, all through history there has been a “remnant” of true believers within Israel, whose number has at times been underestimated. Paul then discusses the historical roles that Israel and then the Gentiles have had in witnessing for God in the world, and concludes with the glorious hope for his nation that one day “all Israel will be saved”. Paul is in no doubt that there remains a role for his an in the future, but not until they come to faith in Jesus as Messiah.   

People can rush through those chapters to get to the clear application of 12-16.  However, let me encourage you not to forget that a godly life starts with trust in Christ’s righteousness (5:1) for justification and then relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to live a godly life (6:11, 8:9-11) — sanctification.  Only as we do this can we be transformed into the person God is calling us to be (12:1-2).  The Greek translated “transformed” is the word we get our English word, “metamorphosis.”  Metamorphosis is the process of moving from an immature form to an adult form. We often think of the caterpillar magnificently becoming a butterfly.   But we can’t do it without constant reliance on God’s Holy Spirit.

As you finish the book of Romans, I pray that you’ll experience a magnificent transformation, trusting in Jesus to be right with God (justification) and relying on the indwelling Holy Spirit to grow in holiness (sanctification). 
Written by: Kevin McKee
Photo Credit: Michal Mrozek

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