Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. More specifically today’s passage is found in the fifteenth chapter of the epistle. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded on toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:1-13).
“And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also re admonish one another. Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, that I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand. For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. When therefore I have performed this, and heave sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen” (Romans 15:14-32).
CHRISTIAN LIVING! PRACTICAL LIVING! When you come to this particular portion of Scripture—and not just this portion but also the final five chapters of this epistle—you will encounter the apostle Paul driving home an incredibly powerful point concerning Christian living in the life of one who has been justified by faith alone. In all reality if you take the time to read the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints of Rome you will find the apostle Paul spending a considerable amount of time writing and speaking of the believer’s justification before and in the sight of the living God. You cannot read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the incredible truth the apostle Paul recognized and understood the believer is one who is not justified according to works of the Law nor is a believer one who is justified according to circumcision. In the opening chapters of this epistle the apostle Paul emphatically declared that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. In the opening five chapters of this epistle the apostle Paul spent a considerable amount of time writing and speaking unto the saints which were at Rome concerning their need for a Savior and their need for justification. In fact it is in the fifth chapter where the apostle Paul writes and speaks of sin and death being transmitted and passed down throughout the generations because of the iniquity and transgression of one man. The apostle Paul made it perfectly clear that the wages of sin was death and that sin and death have reigned in the earth ever since the time of the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.
As you read the words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints of Rome you will find the absolutely unmistakable truth that man was justified by faith alone according to the free gift of God through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact it is a theme that is presented within and throughout the opening eight chapters of this book and one that cannot be missed or understated. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for at the very heart of this epistle is the truth that man is not and has never been justified according to works of the Law nor has man every been justified according to circumcision. There is a great and present need when reading the words found in this epistle to recognize and understand that the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life. It was Jesus Himself who declared unto Nicodemus that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Moreover it was Jesus who also declared immediately after this how God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. Upon reading the words found in this New Testament epistle we must needs recognize and understand that we have all sinned and have all fallen short of the glory of God. It is in the first and opening chapter the apostle makes his readers and audience very much aware of the truth that they are without excuse—even those who did not have the Law given unto the children of Israel through Moses. It is in the first and opening chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul seeks to place all men within and upon the earth squarely guilty in the sight of the living God. What’s more is the apostle Paul not only sought to place men as being guilty in the sight of the living God but He also sought to declare that they were without excuse in His sight. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the opening chapter beginning with the eighteenth verse:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, eve n his eternal power and Godhead; so that they were without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (Romans 1:18-25).
“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whsiperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:26-32).
It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand how the apostle Paul begins and opens this epistle written unto the saints of Rome for within it we find the apostle seeking to paint a powerful picture of both Jews and Gentiles standing guilty and without excuse in the sight of the living God. The apostle Paul emphatically declared how the wrath of God was revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and all uncleanness of men and would also go on to declare that what might be known of God is manifest in them for God had showed it unto them. Moreover the apostle Paul would go on to write how the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen being understood by the things which are made—even His eternal power and Godhead—so that they are without excuse. Despite the fact that the invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen and are understood by the things which are made men—when they knew God—glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful and became vain in their imaginations. Furthermore the apostle Paul declared of them how professing themselves to be wise they became fools and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. As a direct result of this God gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves—those who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.
It is in the second chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul presents and paints a powerful picture of hypocrisy and legalism as he directly challenges those who would seek to pass judgment upon others for the very same things they themselves do. In the second chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul boldly declares and proclaims unto his readers and audience that there is a tremendous and inherent danger that exists within the heart and mind of one who would seek to pass judgment against and upon another—specifically and particularly if they themselves do the very same things which they are condemning. Such individuals are like the scribes and the Pharisees whom Jesus spoke of in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Matthew as well as the words which Luke presented to us concerning the parable Jesus spoke of the publican and the Pharisee. What we find in the second chapter of this epistle is the apostle Paul writing and speaking of the judgment and wrath of God being made manifest in the earth toward and against unrighteousness and uncleanness and how His judgment is upon those who would seek to judge, accuse and condemn others according to their own righteousness or standard of holiness. What’s more is that we must needs recognize that at the very heart and core of the second chapter was the Jews who themselves had the Law of God given unto Moses and would seek to judge others according to the Law. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and must acknowledge the inherent danger and temptation surrounding judging others. It would be in the New Testament gospels where Jesus Himself condemns and rebukes those who would seek to judge and condemn others—a truth which we must needs acknowledge and understand. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narratives written by Matthew and Luke as well as the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written unto the saints of Rome:
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).
“But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one check offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? For sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 7:27-38).
“Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despises thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds; to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another) in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Romans 2:1-16).
There is a great and present need to recognize the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the words presented here paint a powerful picture of one who would seek to judge another and yet themselves do the very same thing. It is in the previous chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul presented all men as being without excuse because of the invisible things which may be known of God being made evident and manifested in those things which are easily seen in what has been made in the earth. The apostle Paul would follow this up by painting a powerful picture of those who would seek to judge others according to their own measure and standard of righteousness or even what they believe and read in the Law. This is precisely what Jesus condemned and rebuked the scribes and the Pharisees for as the Lord Jesus would rebuke them—not only for their hypocrisy but also for their judgment and accusation of others. As I have previously mentioned the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Matthew paints a powerful picture of the hypocrisy of the scribes and the Pharisees who raised themselves up in judgment against others—even their own kinsmen and brothers. Oh it is absolutely necessary and imperative we pay attention to the words found in this passage of Scripture for they bring us face to face with the tremendous and inherent danger surrounding our thinking and believing we are in a position where we can judge others—particularly and especially when those who judge do the very same things which they are accusing, condemning and judging others for.
In order to truly understand the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome it is absolutely necessary that he wrote it seeking to invite his readers and audience into the place where they recognized and understood that they were not justified according to works of the Law but by grace according to the free gift of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only this but the apostle Paul also sought to convey to his readers that they are not justified according to circumcision. The apostle Paul believed that man was justified by faith alone and that it is according to faith that one can truly be justified in the sight and presence of the living God. I continue to be completely and utterly fascinated at the thought of what it must have been like to be a Jew during the days of the apostle Paul and hear him say that neither circumcision nor works of the law availed anything in the sight of the living God. What’s more is I can’t help but wonder what it was like for the Jews during those days to hear the apostle Paul declare that one was not a Jew who was one outwardly but one who was a Jew inwardly. Moreover the apostle Paul would go on to declare that it was not the hearers of the Law who were justified in the sight of the living God but the doers of the Law. It is absolutely necessary and important for us to recognize and understand this for it is at the very heart of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. Oh there is something truly awesome and wonderful found in this epistle for what is present within it is a tremendous truth and declaration concerning the believer as being justified in the sight of God by and through faith alone without and apart from the Law. The apostle Paul believed that neither the Law nor circumcision availed anything in the sight and presence of the living God and that it was faith alone. It is in the tenth chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul spoke of the word of faith being nigh unto them and how the word of faith called and invited them to confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in their heart that God raised Him up from the grave. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the tenth chapter of this epistle as well as the words which are found in the second, third and fourth chapter:
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (That is, to bring Christ down from above) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them t hat preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:4-17).
“For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:25-29).
“What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? Whose damnation is just” (Romans 3:1-8).
“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: seeing it is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:21-31).
“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that jusfifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet circumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith: For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, and he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be” (Romans 4:1-18).
It is in the second, third and fourth chapters of this epistle we are brought face to face with the incredibly powerful truth surrounding this justification of the believer and how it comes not according to works of the law nor by circumcision but rather through faith alone. The apostle Paul believed within his heart and was convinced that man was not justified according to the works of the Law and that man was justified by faith according to the free gift of God by and through the person of the Lord Jesus. There is a great need within our hearts and minds to recognize that it is not according to works of the law nor according circumcision we are justified in the sight of the living God but according to faith. The apostle Paul made it very clear that those who confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus and those who believe in their heart that God hath raised Him from the dead shall be saved. For those who read the words which are found in this epistle they would be brought face to face with the truth that although the wages of sin is death it is entirely and altogether possible to be justified in the sight of the living God. Although sin and death reigned in the earth as a direct result of the transgression of Adam in the garden it was indeed possible to be justified by faith, through faith and according to faith. Despite the fact that sin and death. The words which are presented in the fifth chapter of this epistle paint the powerful picture of sin and death being transmitted throughout the generations from the time of Adam until Moses when the Law was given. Truthfully, however, the apostle Paul emphatically wrote in this epistle that the wages of sin was death and that death was in fact passed down through the generations. The apostle Paul recognized and understood that sin and death were both transmitted by and through Adam and that as a direct result of his transgression sin and death have been manifested in the earth.
The more you read the words which are found in this epistle the more you will encounter and come face to face with the fact that although the wages of sin is death and although death was transmitted alongside sin from the time of Adam until the present there was indeed a way to confront and combat sin. What’s more is that not only was there a way to combat sin but there was also a way to combat the sinful nature that is within our physical being in this life. There is something we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this epistle for although the wages of sin is death the living and eternal God made a way for the body of sin to be destroyed. I am absolutely astonished by the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for although the wages of sin is death the eternal and living God sent His only begotten Son in the form of human flesh that through His death He might destroy the body of sin. The only begotten Son presented Himself as a living sacrifice which was holy and acceptable in the sight of the living God that during those six hours the work of condemning and destroying in in His flesh might be fulfilled and accomplished during that time. What’s more is that we must needs recognize that just as the sickness which was present within the physical body of Lazarus was destroyed through death so also was sin destroyed in the physical body of the Lord Jesus as He hung there suspended between earth and heaven upon the cross. The cross would be the divine instrument upon which Jesus would present Himself as a living sacrifice that He might destroy the stronghold of sin. What’s more is that not only did Jesus destroy the stronghold of sin in His physical body but He would also conquer and destroy death. It is when you come to the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus you will find Him declaring Himself to have the keys of death, hell and the grave. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for what we find in the epistle written unto the saints of Rome is the first means by which sin would indeed be destroyed for it was first destroyed in the physical flesh of the Lord Jesus before it was and is ever destroyed in our own flesh.
It is at this juncture I feel compelled to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of this epistle for what we find here in these three chapters is an incredibly strong and powerful picture of sin and death reigning upon the earth from the time of Adam until now and how it would be through the living sacrifice of the Lord Jesus sin would be destroyed in the body of His physical flesh. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that although the wages of sin is death and although death was a natural byproduct of sin from the time of Adam until now the same way of confronting sin is through the death of the Lord Jesus—and not only through the death of the Lord Jesus but also through death which is worked and produced within our own lives. Perhaps one of the greatest truths found within this epistle is not merely that we are justified by faith alone but also that the way to deal with sin which produces death is by and through death. What’s more is that this means of dealing with sin through death is not only found in the death of the Lord Jesus when He condemned sin in the flesh but also through death which is produced and worked within our own physical beings. We must needs come face to face with the tremendous and powerful truth that although the wages of sin is death and although sin and death have reigned in the earth from the time of Adam the underlying and ultimate solution to sin is death. The death of Jesus was most certainly the single greatest means of condemning sin in the flesh and confronting it, however, the death of Jesus demands and requires us ourselves to walk in the likeness of that death as we seek to put to death the power and presence of sin within our lives. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of this New Testament epistle:
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access bhy faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:1-11).
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned; (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Neverthless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one. Man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one. Man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much. More abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:12-21).
While the words presented in the fifth chapter paint a powerful picture of the death and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus in response to sin and death which were transmitted from the time of Adam until the time of Moses and beyond it is important for us to recognize and understand that in chapters six, seven and eight of this epistle there is a direct correlation and connection between the death of the Lord Jesus and death which is worked within our physical beings. What we must needs recognize is that death is going to be worked in our physical beings one way or another. The underlying question we must needs ask ourselves is which form and manner of death is going to be worked within our members. Will death that is according to sin and which is produced and wrought by sin going to be worked in our physical members or will we be those who commit ourselves to death in response to sin that it might be destroyed among our members? Perhaps one of the greatest truths we must needs recognize and understand is that death is and has always been a natural byproduct of death and yet the question which remains is how will death be worked within our lives. We know that it is appointed unto men once to die and then the judgment, however, we must acknowledge and understand that in addition to that we will either commit ourselves to putting to death the sinful body within our flesh or we will allow death to work in us that which is unseemly and that which will ultimately cause us to experience the second death which is the eternal lake of fire. There is a great and tremendous need within these physical beings we have been given to commit and give ourselves to those who are willing to be buried with Christ in baptism and in death that the sinful body might be destroyed.
I sit here today thinking about the awesome and powerful reality concerning the call to Christian living presented in chapters twelve through fifteen of this epistle and the more I think about it the more I encounter the tremendous truth that at the very heart and core of our Christian living in this world is our identifying and associating with the death of the Lord Jesus upon the cross. It was indeed true that the Lord Jesus condemned sin in the flesh when He died upon the cross, however, it is also true that we ourselves must needs identify and associate ourselves with that death. For the apostle Paul there was no separation or distinction made between the death of the Lord Jesus upon the cross and the death we commit ourselves to in this life. For the apostle Paul the death which the Lord Jesus experienced upon the cross was intrinsically linked and connected to the death which we purpose and commit ourselves to in this life. With each and every day that passes we are brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth surrounding our need to identify and associate with the Lord Jesus and the death He experienced upon the cross two thousand years ago. What’s more is that the Lord Jesus didn’t die that we might somehow avoid it but rather He died as a means of inviting us to join and participate in that death. Furthermore when Jesus spoke of denying ourselves and taking up our cross He spoke of the cross as an instrument of discipleship well before He ever spoke of it as an instrument of His own death and sacrifice. We know that Jesus did indeed die upon the cross at the hands of the Romans, however, even before He began teaching His disciples how He must suffer many things, be scourged, suffer and ultimately die he first declared that any who wished to follow Him must deny themselves and take up their cross. Not only this but Jesus would also declare that anyone who did not take up their cross and follow Him was not worthy of Him.
It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the words which are found in chapters five through eight of this New Testament epistle for within these three chapters we are brought face to face with the intrinsic link that exists between the death of the Lord Jesus and our association with that death. We must needs recognize and understand that there is a direct correlation between the death which the Lord Jesus died upon the cross and our own death. Not only this but the way to truly deal with the sin nature and flesh in our physical beings and members is both through appropriating the death of the Lord Jesus upon the cross as well as committing ourselves to dying and putting to death the members of our flesh that we might not gratify the desires of our flesh. Although the wages of sin is death and although sin and death have reigned upon the earth from the time of Adam we must needs understand that sin was dealt a death blow through the sacrifice and offering of the Lord Jesus and is dealt an even further blow through our association with the death of the Lord Jesus. We cannot truly understand the practical demonstration of our justification by faith without and apart from recognizing and understanding our need to put to death the members of our flesh that we might gratify the desires thereof. Having said this I now invite you to consider the following words which are found in the sixth, seventh and eighth chapters of this New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul:
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might by destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth. No more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:1-14).
“What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey: whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the savants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are not ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through. Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:15-23).
“Know ye now, brethren, (For I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is found by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ: that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful” (Romans 7:1-13).
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was wweak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally. Minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, nor to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and join-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:1-17).
It is with all of this in mind we now come face to face with how the apostle Paul begins the twelfth chapter for when he began this part of the epistle he did so by appealing to the mercies of God. Beginning with the opening verse of the twelfth chapter the apostle Paul besought the saints of Rome according to the mercies of God—according to being justified by faith according to the free gift of God through the person of Jesus Christ—to present their bodies as living sacrifices which were holy and acceptable in the sight of the living God. The words which we find in chapters twelve through fifteen present and paint a powerful picture of the response to our being justified by faith—namely, how we conduct ourselves in this crooked and perverse generation. We cannot and must not read the words found in these chapters and not view them in light of our being justified in the sight and presence of the living God. The words we find in these chapters serve as a powerful invitation given unto us as the disciples of Jesus and the saints of God to bear fruit of our being justified by faith. In the epistle written unto the saints of Rome as well as the epistle written unto the churches in Galatia the apostle Paul declared unto his readers and audience they were justified by faith alone and not according to works of the law nor according to circumcision. With this being said, however, we must needs recognize that although we are not justified by works of the law there must be a tangible demonstration, manifestation and evidence of that faith working within our lives. The language presented in the final chapters of this epistle bring us face to face with the fact that the apostle believed, recognized and understood that justification by faith alone and being made right in the sight of God demanded action, demanded responsibility, and demanded fruit within our lives.
There would be those who would think there is an apparent contradiction that exists between the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle written unto the saints of Rome, the epistle written unto the churches of Galatia, and the epistle which James wrote. It is in the epistle which James wrote he spoke unto those who would show him and profess unto him their faith without works while he would show them his faith by works. What we must needs understand is that James is in no way declaring that we are justified by works rather than faith but rather how faith demands action. There are some among us in the Church who would like to think that justification in the sight and presence of the living God is enough and that there is only a need within our lives to be justified and made holy and righteous in the sight of the living God without and apart from anything else. The truth of the matter, however, is that faith has always and continues to demand action and responsibility on our parts. We dare not and must not think for a single moment that faith is able to stand alone without fruit. James emphatically declared how faith without works is dead and we must needs understand this as “faith without fruit is dead.” Faith without a tangible demonstration and manifestation of its presence within our lives is dead. In other words faith must needs have an outlet and a means of expressing itself in this world. With this being said it’s important for us to recognize that faith can indeed be like the dead sea that has no life within it nor can it produce any life because all it does is receive and has no outlet. The Dead Sea is dead because it continues to receive and yet it has absolutely no outlet from which it is able to flow forth into other areas. Oh eventually there is going to come a day when the waters of the Dead Sea are going to be healed but for the past several centuries it has been entirely and altogether dead. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament epistle written by James concerning the intrinsic link and connection between faith and works in the life of a saint of God:
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not be faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14-26).
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found within these chapters for what begins with the apostle Paul speaking of presenting our bodies as living sacrifices which are holy and acceptable in the sight of the living God would actually continue with him providing his audience with a powerful picture of how the faith which he had spoken of throughout the epistle is demonstrated and manifested. If there is one thing we must needs recognize is that although we are justified by faith and although faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God faith is also demonstrated and manifested through our relationship(s) to our brother(s) and our sister(s). In fact I would dare say that both James and the apostle Paul believed that faith without works was dead and abode alone and needed an outlet and means of manifesting and demonstrating it in this world. There would be some who would argue the apostle Paul did not believe one could be justified according to works and yet I would argue and contend that the apostle Paul recognized and understood that while the just shall live by faith that faith must needs be demonstrated and manifested in the midst of the world. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely awesome and powerful truth that although we are indeed justified by faith in the sight of God that faith must needs have a means of demonstration and must needs have a means to be evidenced and manifested in the world. There is a reason the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord thy God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength and the second is just like it—namely, to love your neighbor as yourself.
I am absolutely convinced that the command to love the LORD thy God with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s strength is very much like the understanding that the just shall live by faith. What’s more is the same way we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves so also we must needs demonstrate and manifest our faith by and through works. We must needs recognize and understand that we have indeed and have in fact been called to demonstrate and manifest our faith—not only through how we treat and interact with our neighbors but also how we treat and interact with those who might be perceived as enemies in this world. There is a great need for us as the people of God to recognize and acknowledge that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who commit our lives to demonstrating and manifesting our faith in the earth as we live our lives as those who are not only pure and undefiled but also as those who show their faith by and through their works. Oh that we would recognize and understand that faith demands and requires fruit and faith demands action and demonstration in this life as we show our faith before and in the sight of the living God by and through our fruit and our actions.