Week 2, Day 4
READ: Romans 2
BACKGROUND: This is a heavy chapter, full of Paul’s regular run-on sentences. I’m not going to be able to cover all the questions you might have in this small space, but please feel free to ask in the comments section about anything in here that you’d like more clarity on.
6 – The same idea/phrase is found in Psalm 62:12, Proverbs 24:12, & Matthew 16:27.
7 – Good works are good, but good works do not save us.
12 – Paul is saying that those who don’t know God’s law will be judged differently than those who do. But we will all face judgment for the things we’ve done and the offenses we have all committed against God’s holiness.
14 – This is a cool verse. Paul is saying that in every human, whether they know God or not, there is a Divine spark and conscience that leads us to do good and act morally even if we don’t fully understand it or, for that matter, pay attention to it.
25-28 – Paul is writing to Jews to tell them circumcision doesn’t save. Basically the message is: Just because you were born into it and your parents had faith and you went through the religious rituals when you were young doesn’t, by any measure, mean that you are saved and right before God.
29 – The phrase “by the Spirit” is key here. It reminds us who is really accomplishing things in our lives – that it is not by our own power or our own giftedness but by the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.
THINK: I recently heard author and pastor Francis Chan give this illustration and it struck me as I applied it both to my life as a parent and my life as a Christ-follower. Here’s my personalized version of it: If I ask Jimmy to go and clean up his room, what exactly is it that I expect him to do? The really simple, obvious answer is that I expect him to walk to his room, pick up his toys and his books, make his bed and actually clean his room. And the simple answer is the correct one. When I ask my son to clean his room I have an expectation that he will do just that.
But what would happen if, like 15 years from now when Jimmy is a teenager and is old enough to understand exactly what I mean and what I expect, I asked Jimmy to go and clean his room and he responded “Wow! You bet! That sounds awesome!” but when I went to check he hadn’t done anything. I’d probably be bothered by his inaction, and I’d confront him. And what if he then said, “Dad, it was so great what you said that I just memorized it. I know it by heart. ‘Jimmy, can you go clean up your room?’ See, I memorized it. I even memorized it in multiple languages so I can share your words cross-culturally. In Spanish, it’s ¿Diego, puede ir a limpiar su habitación? Oh, I’ve also invited some friends over and we’re gonna do a study on your words. We’re really gonna try to learn a lot about them and we’ll try to dissect the grammar and the perlocutionary intent so that we fully understand the phrase ‘Jimmy, can you go clean up your room?’” That all sounds super nice – real warm and fuzzy and respectful. But at the end of the day none of it matters if he never gets around to actually putting the words in to practice and cleaning his room.
This is what Paul is driving at in Romans 2:13, “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”
We hear God’s word and his law all the time. We hear it at church and in small groups and house groups. We read the Bible and read through Thoughin2 or some other devotional literature. But do we actually do what it says? We know exactly who God is calling us to be – our failures in this life are not often a matter of a lack of knowledge. But do we allow that knowledge to so penetrate and define our lives that our actions reflect it? Many of us are wet sponges – we’ve been soaking up a lot of truth. Are we willing to be wrung out in order to spread that truth to the world?
ASK: When I think about my walk with God right now would I characterize myself as more of a hearer of the word or a doer? What are some practical ways in which I can put my faith into action this week?
Wow what a great passage. It really hit me hard tonight especially in the place im in right now. Ive trusted in jesus and believed in him since i remember. I struggle with actually living it out daily like paul says here. But it scares me, even though i believe he died for me and that is why im saved , there are the passages like verse 8 where it talks about people refusing to folloe the truth and instead, follow evil. I screw up daily and find myself doubting whether God still really means im saved just because i dont live it out every day and can feel very hypocritical. Prayers please!
Sorry for not responding sooner. I think this is one that we all struggle with, and I’m praying for you. The Bible certainly talks at certain points about falling away from God and about people chasing after evil. And there are some who believe that we are constantly “in” and “out” of the Kingdom of God based upon the decisions we make from day to day. However, I don’t think that God intends for us to live in constant tension or worry about whether we’re saved. I believe that he very clearly gives us an indication that we can live with great peace and confidence in our salvation: “I write these things to you who believe in the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life.” – 1 John 5:13.
This knowledge doesn’t mean that we can live however we want or that we don’t need to constantly “work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling.” – Philippians 2:12. I think too many people begin to think that way. They become comfortable in this assurance of salvation they think they have simply because 1 time they said a prayer and then they walk out and refuse to live in any real way like they actually believe it. They settle for cheap grace and this isn’t what God is calling us to or what he designed us for and it certainly isn’t, in my view, a Biblical picture of salvation. At the same time, though, I don’t think the idea that we are constantly moving “in” or “out” of salvation is the Biblical picture either.
When the Bible talks about “salvation” it is talking about 3 different things that are all interrelated to one another – 3 steps along the journey if you will. These 3 things are justification, sanctification, & glorification. And understanding how these work, I think, gives us a picture of how we can be certain that we are saved even in the midst of our daily struggle not to be hypocrites who live like we aren’t. We are justified (made right, counted right, set right) by God’s grace through faith. Because of what Jesus accomplished, we are set right before God simply by faith in him and the righteousness of Jesus is counted to us. So, we can have an unshakable confidence that we are saved no matter what because our salvation depends on what he did not what we do. Sanctification is the next step. It means being transformed into Christ-likeness. This process goes on throughout our entire lives. By the power of the Holy Spirit working in us we are being saved every day as we allow him to change us into people more like Jesus – more like who he created us to be. And this process has setbacks and failures along the way – that’s why it lasts our entire lives. They aren’t failures that take away our justification though. We are justified already. We are being sanctified. If we aren’t being sanctified and we aren’t willing at all or in any way to let God transform us – no matter how painfully slow it can feel at times because of our sin and our failures – there is reason to question whether our faith is real. But imperfection and sin are not a reason to ask those questions. Instead, they’re just an unfortunate part of our broken humanity. Glorification is actually being in Heaven with God forever. We aren’t there yet, but we can trust that we will be. It is the ultimate end-product of salvation.
All that is to say: Never stop fighting against sin. Never stop letting God transform you. Never stop letting your heart be broken over the sin in your life. But, at the same time, never doubt the fullness of God’s grace extended to you. You ARE saved, you ARE BEING saved, and you WILL BE saved. Our hypocrisy and failure, even after accepting God as our Lord and Savior, does not disqualify what he accomplished for us on the cross.