Romans 2.6-11 – You only get what you give

The end of the school year was always an interesting time, wasn’t it, when annual report cards were sent home. Funnily, everyone would be wondering what teacher gave them what grade when really, if we are honest, we already knew what we would be getting, because we knew whether we worked hard enough to get a good grade.

Romans 2.6 is one of those verses that, if taken by itself, can mean something totally different to the context it’s in. We read ‘He will render to each one according to his works:’, which sounds like we have to work to get things from God, the good score on the report card. But, if we read the whole passage, we see different, 

6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.

So, rather than working to get that good report from God, we are to work towards seeking glory, honour, and immortality. Tough task to work towards, right? There is only one place to work towards to get that, one single source of all those things (Hebrews 5.8-10, 1 Timothy 1.17).

Our work, then, is to by patience in well-doing seek for Jesus. Relationship with Him. Justification in Him. Sanctification in Him. Glorificaiton in Him. This passage is so clear; we only get what we give. As is true in the classroom so is also true in life – the effort we put in is reflected in the grade we get. 

The best thing about all of this though, the thing that will send us into our day with an attitude of gratitude is this; there has been a deliberate mix up of the reports. When God looks at yours, it has Jesus’ name at the top. Instead of sending it back and looking at you and what you have done, the merited and earned punishment never comes (v.9), because we have put our hope, faith, trust, and obedience in Jesus.


SIMPLY, WE GET BECAUSE HE GAVE.


Point to ponder – Am I doing all I can to keep Jesus’ name at the top of my report?

Prayer – Father God I am so grateful that when you look at me, you do so through the lens of your perfect, sinless, and spotless Son, Jesus. Through the power of Your indwelling Holy Spirit help me today to keep the name of Jesus at the top of my priorities, help me to be a believer in Him first, and to have this wonderful privilege influence everything I do today. Amen. 

Romans 2.1-5 – Me? Never.

We finished yesterday with a long and lewd list of sins that God has very clearly told us will lead to eternal separation from Him if we practice. The kicker was the last statement, not only those who practice, but those who give approval too. If you think about it, if you are endorsing and approving something, you are as good as doing it, you are saying that morally, you believe it’s ok.

The human part of us then looks at this list and becomes ultra defensive, ultra moral, and ultra judgmental. Something like 

Me, no, I would never A/B/C”, 

That’s horrible, I never…”. 

Paul starts chapter two by addressing this very attitude,

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

We know that at some point in our lives, we have walked this way. We know we were under bondage to something found in vv.26-31. They are a pretty all-encompassing group of flaws in the human condition. Paul is saying look, if you pass judgement on those who are still struggling and suffering with these sins, as a lifestyle, you condemn yourself, because we have all been there.

Here in this passage we see the way out of such bondage;

God’s grace past, present, and future. 

Paul writes do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience; kindness towards our old self, forbearance with our slowly learning and sanctifying self, and patience as we work towards who we will be one day. God treats us this way in order that we repent, which means to turn away from the old and head actively toward the new. This is not to be confused with remorse, feeling bad about what you did but then heading back to it.

We really should lose the judgemental, ultra moral mindset when confronted with a list of sins like Paul presented here, and humbly think, and know, that we too were once slave to this way of life. 

Through His amazing, saving, justifying, sanctifying, and ultimately glorifying grace we have been set free. We are free to turn away from the lives we once lived, and to move toward the life that He wants us to live, which simply has to begin, continue, and finish with faith in Jesus. 

When we see others still living this way, let us not judge. Let us thank God that we no longer are slave to sin, let us pray for those still under its grip, and let us model with our whole lives what faith in Jesus looks like. 


Point to ponder – Who was the person who didn’t judge me for living in sin, but instead showed me what a life lived by faith in Jesus looked like?


Prayer – Father again we ask that you help us not to judge those who are living in sin. We know this is your job, not ours. We also know that at one time we lived like this, but we also know that in an amazing demonstration of your love for us, Christ died for us whilst we were still sinners. For this we say thank you. For you kindness, forbearance, and patience we say thank you. Help us today to live a life of continued faith, of continued repentance, in your unending grace. Amen.

Romans 1.29-32 – Do we approve?

Today Paul continues his lament, of sorts, about the sad state of those who have exchanged the truth about God for a lie, those who God has given up to a debased mind. Having a debased mind has the idea of being quality checked and being found lacking, being unapproved.

Yesterday we said that the freedom to live this way was a judgement in itself, in that our lifestyle can put more and more distance between God and us in terms of the close, loving, and personal relationship He desires. The list of characteristics here is long, lewd, and lacking in love for God or for others. When we exchange the truth about God for a lie, this is how we become,

29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

There are sins in there that are societally unacceptable (evil, murder, maliciousness, inventors of evil), but there are also sins in there that society tells us are no big deal (deceit, insolent, haughty, boastful, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless, gossips, slanderers). What we take from this is that we are being held to a different standard, and it is far above what society deems ok. The plumb line of God’s Word, will, and ways is far straighter than the crooked line of our modern society. As the old saying goes, you know a line is crooked because you have seen a straight line, and we have (John 17.17, Psalm 19.7-10).

Perhaps the most striking part of this passage is the ending. Paul says, with a frankness and clarity that would have him vilified in today’s society, those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. So, the exchanging of God for a lie, the exchanging of relations that are natural for those that are contrary to nature, the list above, those who practice such things deserve to die

We have moved on from times of stoning and the like (John 8.7), so Paul is not advocating capital punishment, rather the spiritual death that takes place and the eternal separation from God that is waiting for those that practice lifestyles like this. Then, the bolt that makes us sit upright, that not only those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God, but those who give approval


WE NEED TO BE SO CAREFUL WHAT WE APPROVE.


This can take many forms; the shows we watch on television, the movies we watch, the books we read, the events we attend, the words we choose when talking about all of this. It seems like a task that we just cannot do in our limited human capacity, and we can’t. But, the same power that raised Jesus our Lord from the dead lives in us (Romans 8.11). The Spirit will guide us in our choices, our relationships, our interactions, our approvals, and our denials.


Prayer for today – Father God I come to you in the name of Jesus and in the power of your Holy Spirit and ask that you show me any areas of my life that would cause me, or others, to stumble. Help me approve what you approve, and to disapprove of what you disapprove of. Help me to love those that choose to live in a way that you don’t approve of. Help me to leave the judgement to you and you alone. Create in me a pure heart, Lord, and renew a right Spirit within me. 

Romans 1.18-25 – Can you not see?

Have you ever tried on someone else’s glasses? Sometimes they are really mild and maybe just for computers/tv/reading (like mine), sometimes they are just for fashion, and other times they are literally what allow people to see…they are so strong! In those instances it’s natural (but not overly kind) to exclaim something about the blindness of your friend and say something like “Wow, can you not see without them?!”.

If we take this and think about the world around us; the sky, the sun, the moon, the trees, the breeze, the ocean, the plants, the animals, the delicately balanced ecosystem, the fact that a few inches here or there closer to or further away from the sun would mean earth could not sustain life, when we consider things like this, it is a huge indicator of intelligent design – the world was made like this on purpose, for a purpose, by someone with a purpose. Can we not see this?

Romans 1.18-25 speaks of those who are not living by faith, and says that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. By faith this is what we are saved from, the wrath of God. God’s general revelation is then detailed in vv.19-23,

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Psalm 19.1-6 also details God’s general revelation – that which can be known about God just by observing, looking, and seeing. Unfortunately some in Rome had taken their glasses off, so to speak, and despite this knowledge and even some theological knowledge (although they knew God), they started to worship creature over Creator; idolatry.

Possibly the worst part of God’s wrath is to be left alone, to be left to walk down this path away from Him, to be given over to the lusts of the heart. Exchanging truth for a lie means we participate in the lie (Genesis 3.5), exchanging truth for a lie means we exchange truth for idolatry, exchanging truth for a lie means we put our efforts into human resources for satisfaction, not God and His abundant resources.

For us, the heavens declare the glory of God, and this is far greater than anything we can conjure up ourselves, any glory we may produce. Apart from Him, apart from living by faith in Jesus we have no glory. God in his loving kindness has given us ample evidence that He is a part of everything; look out of the window and see the beautiful sky of a thousand blues, or listen to the birds sing, or watch the waves lap the shore. Watch a sunset or a sunrise and realise by whose hand this is possible. 

Point to ponder – take a moment today to appreciate God’s creation, enjoy His general revelation to you, and say thank you!

Romans 1.16-17 – Ashamed?

When we get something new and seemingly life changing, something like a car that doesn’t break down every month, a phone or computer that doesn’t crash every day, or a place to live with a bath in the bathroom, we would never ever think of declaring, ‘I am not ashamed of my new car.’, or ‘I am not ashamed of my new phone’, or ‘I am not ashamed of my bath!’. Those thoughts would never cross our minds, therefore, we would never feel the need to clarify, no, I am not ashamed.

Paul here starts by saying I am not ashamed of the Gospel. He finished his last paragraph by saying how keen he was to preach the Gospel to you also who are in Rome. The thought, however brief, must therefore have crossed his mind that what he was preaching, the good news that Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of the world and through faith in Him you can be saved unto eternal life, the thought must have crossed his mind that this sounded foolish and he was going to be mocked, maybe worse, for it (1 Corinthians 1.18).


Do we ever feel like that?

Do we ever have momentary doubts about the fact that a human being was murdered 2000 years ago and by believing in who He was and what He did that this will somehow supernaturally change your life, both now and forever?

Most of us will admit to having thought that on occasion. 


So how do we deal with it?

Paul goes on to reinforce just what he is preaching, it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Rome was the centre of power, those there would have responded to the way Paul writes this, and since time was even a thing to be counted man has known that he needed something more, that there was something missing, that he needed a Saviour.

When we doubt, when we are tempted to feel ashamed, that is when our faith needs to kick in, from faith for faith. Don’t forget all God has done for you or for the entire world (John 3.16). As Paul quotes from Habakkuk, the righteous shall live by faith. 

So, no matter what you may doubt today, or any day, take this path;

Doubt leads to enquiry, enquiry leads to knowledge, knowledge leads to deeper faith. 

Ours is a faith that is robust and strong, it can handle a little doubt and enquiry and it possess all treasures of wisdom and knowledge in the One who brought us into the fold (Colossians 2.3). 


Points to ponder today – 

Am I ashamed of the Gospel? Why?

Am I living my life by faith as a person who is viewed by God as righteous?