Study from God’s Word… Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians, written from Corinth – Chapters 1 – 3: 20 … Passage for Reflection: Romans 1: 17 (with verse 16, a powerful truth/verse you may know by heart) … NIV 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”[Habakkuk 2: 4 ]
My Journal for Today: Wow! I’m led in these next last days of December, in Dr. LaGard Smith’s devotional book and through his shepherding me through the Bible chronologically, to read/study Paul’s letter to the “people of The Way (i.e., Christians)” in Rome. And what a reading and study this is.
Sometimes Paul’s letter to the Romans is called “The Christian Manifesto” as the Apostle, in anticipating a trip to Rome in his future, wanted to lay out a clear, and Spirit-led, treatise on the Gospel message and how believers should not be misled by Jewish religiosity or traditions to mistake righteousness under the law with faith that comes from God’s grace in Christ. And our book (i.e., epistle) from Paul to the Romans does exactly that … theologically and practically. And study into this epistle is a study for all sinners, and especially for those of us who’ve received the saving grace of God through faith, as well as those of us who aspire, through that faith, unto righteousness.
And today’s verse, Romans 1: 17, is a hearty declaration of Paul’s theme to the Romans in the context of his clear message of the Gospel’s truth that salvation can – and will – come to any or all who surrender to its saving grace which will lead the saved believer unto sanctification and righteousness by the same faith which led him/her unto salvation. And we all, as does yours truly, struggle with how to be righteous under the conviction that we’re all sinners (see Rom. 3: 10-12, which is a restatement of the Old Covenant truth in Ps. 14: 1-3, Is. 53: 6, and Eccl. 7: 20. And, knowing and believing the truth of God’s power through His word (see 2nd Tim. 3: 16-17 and Is. 55: 11), anytime God’s word declares His truth openly and clearly in repeated ways, as Paul was doing for the Roman believers (and for us), we need to pay CLOSE attention to these exhortations or directions.
And this is, most definitely, one of those times to perk up our attention, learn, and apply God’s truth. My friend (i.e., anyone who might be reading here with me), we’re all sinners with a dogged sin nature (reading in Romans 3); and knowing that truth, many of us strive toward righteousness. But being one who struggles with the conundrum Paul was exposing for the Romans, I’m responsive today to Dr. Smith’s challenge question at the end of his devotional entry, which is … ”If I struggle with being righteous, could it be because I am still relying on my own effort rather than being truly transformed.”
It’s so easy to fall into the PERFORMANCE mentality rather than the SURRENDER mentality. My nature drives me to want to DO SOMETHING to be a good Christian, rather than letting God mature what is already in me to BE SOMETHING reflective of the Christ (i.e., through His Spirit) Who lives in me. Again I quote Dr. Smith, ”While deep faith invariable motivates actions (i.e., righteousness), actions alone never prompt deep faith. I have to continually and intentionally remember that it is my attitude of surrender to God’s enabling grace which drives me onward to righteous; and no self-directed drive or feeling will ever be what God needs from me … to enable me … to BE what He has already given me to become righteous.
And when you figure all that out, send me an email and give me some clear insight on how to make this happen for you [and me]. ;>)
My Prayer for Today: My Lord, I surrender in faith! Amen