Are you a person who loves order and structure – a place for everything and everything in its place? Or can you tolerate a high level of disorganization and messiness without even noticing the chaos? I’m definitely in the first category, and my husband is somewhere in between. We recently moved. We packed up our lives into two storage units and lived in transition for a month. Now we’re putting things back together in our new home, and while it’s a lot of hard work, it’s been rewarding to see things start to come together. We can see how our life is going to “make sense” living in this new space.
I think Bible study is like that at times. As new believers (or as long-term believers who’ve been less than diligent about the Bible), we take in a lot of information from people mentoring us, podcasts, devotionals, sermons, and our own reading of God’s Word. The Bible is a big book, and it can feel like you’re just stuffing a lot of random thoughts together in the “box” of your mind. It’s nice to stop and take the time to sort it all out, and Romans is the perfect book to do that.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul was a master at presenting the core doctrinal truths that are the foundation of our faith. This letter to the saints at Rome is laid out like a senior doctrinal thesis, rich and deep and complex in truth, but pretty simple and easy to understand in its format. John MacArthur gives a great outline of the whole book, as follows.
- Greetings and Introduction (1:1–15)
- Theme (1:16, 17)
- Condemnation: The Need of God’s Righteousness (1:18–3:20)
- Unrighteous Gentiles (1:18–32)
- Unrighteous Jews (2:1–3:8)
- Unrighteous Mankind (3:9–20)
- Justification: The Provision of God’s Righteousness (3:21–5:21)
- The Source of Righteousness (3:21–31)
- The Example of Righteousness (4:1–25)
- The Blessings of Righteousness (5:1–11)
- The Imputation of Righteousness (5:12–21)
- Sanctification: The Demonstration of God’s Righteousness (6:1–8:39)
- Restoration: Israel’s Reception of God’s Righteousness (9:1–11:36)
- Application: The Behavior of God’s Righteousness (12:1–15:13)
- Conclusion, Greetings, and Benediction (15:14–16:27)
Salvation is all about God’s Righteousness. The book of Romans tells us why we need it, how to obtain it, and the effect it has on our lives.
This morning I read Romans 7-8. Chapter 7 has that well-known passage where Paul is wrestling with the reality of his unredeemed flesh. You see, when God saves us, He regenerates our spirit; He brings our dead spirit to life when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us. But our flesh – this human body – is still unredeemed. We won’t get our new, glorified bodies until we set this “tent” aside and put on immortality. That’s why Jesus told us that those who follow Him must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily. We still have to put to death all the old habits of our sinful life that dwells in our flesh.
The good news is in Chapter 8. Since God saved us and came to live in us, we have the power to win those battles between our flesh and spirit. We are “dead to the law;” it no longer has the final say over us. We can present our bodies to God as instruments of righteousness.
WE DON’T HAVE TO SIN. WE CHOOSE TO SIN.
We daily choose not to sin, not by trying harder to avoid sin but by pursuing and growing and focusing on learning to walk by the Spirit.
There’s so much in these two chapters. If you are struggling with sin as a believer, please read them and ask God to give you insight on how to live victoriously over those things that are keeping you in bondage. Jesus broke the chains and opened the door so that you can walk out of the “hell” that Satan wants you to stay in! Don’t sit there, free, but unwilling to leave.
Justification (salvation, being declared righteous by God through the blood of Jesus) is an instantaneous, one-time event that happens at a point in time – that moment you fully and willfully surrender to God, confessing your sins and asking for His mercy and forgiveness. But sanctification (becoming more and more Christlike in our words, actions, thoughts, and motivations) is a process that takes the rest of our lives.
If God can raise the dead…
If God can save a lost soul…
If God can redeem you…
…He can also sanctify you!
Romans 8:28-30 – And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
The same power that promises you eternal life forever can give you a victorious life today. God will NOT give up on you! Isn’t that good news for today? I’m so thankful for God’s infinite mercy and grace, and His patience as He continues to sanctify us and make us more like Him. He’s ordering our lives, putting everything in place until one day, we will be revealed in glory with Him. Like the song I learned as a child says, He’s still working on me!