Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Book of Romans

The Life Project: Romans
Candice Roberts

The book of Romans is such an expansive book, full of rich theology about the saving
work available through Jesus Christ. If you have never read the book of Romans, I
encourage you to devour it. It is largely regarded as the Apostle Paul’s greatest work
and is central to our understanding of salvation. The last few chapters of Romans take
a subtle shift, however, to the transformation that should take place in the life of a
person once he becomes a believer.

Our lives, once the light of Christ has entered them, should not resemble the old lives
that we once led. We will be, if we have truly made Him the Lord of our lives,
completely transformed. The Book of Romans talks about a few of these radical
changes that will take place in our life as followers of Christ.

Humility is the first mark of a believer that Paul covers. In Romans 12:3 Paul says, “For
by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly
than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with
the faith God has distributed to each of you”. In Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one
another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” In Romans 12:18, “If it is
possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

A proper view of ourselves is essential. We were put on this earth to love our Lord and
to love people. It is impossible to love someone and at the same time think you are
superior to them. Our attitude should be one of service. We find that emulating Christ
will bring us to this attitude of servant hood. Paul says in Philippians 2:5-8 “In your
relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in
very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own
advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

Not only are we to serve each other, Paul says we are not to judge each other. Romans
14:4, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants
stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.” In this
chapter Paul talks a lot about our duty to our fellow believer. He talks about the
“weaker” brother who feels conviction over many things. In Biblical times, this would
be the person who felt it was wrong to eat certain meats, who felt it was wrong to do
work on a particular day of the week, etc. But Paul tells us that no “thing” is wrong in
and of itself. It is the attitude of the heart that is either right or wrong. So the
“stronger” brother may be able to eat all meats, and do work on any day of the week
and feel no conviction at all. Both brothers may be in right standing with God, so do
not judge.

HOWEVER, Paul also talks about not causing your brother to stumble. For example, if
you are able to drink wine with no conviction but are out to dinner with a person in
recovery, you probably should not order wine. Who knows if you might cause your
brother to stumble? And because our attitude should be one of love and service, we
must put our brother’s needs before our own.

Putting others before ourselves seems to be the primary theme of these last four
chapters of Romans. And don’t we all struggle with this? Humanity is really bad at
love. As Christians, who have had total transformation, we should be really good at
love. But are we?

Do you find yourself judging others frequently? Christ says, “Judge not, that you be
not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the
measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your
brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to
your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your
own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see
clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Do you find yourself thinking only about your needs, your hurts, and your feelings?
Again Christ says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a
second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two
commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

I have often overlooked the very simple truth of God’s Word. The way the world will
know Christ, is through us, by our love. And I can’t love when I am haughty,
judgmental, and self-serving. But as my human nature likes to rear its ugly head, I
must die daily to myself so that I can live out the transformation that has taken place
in my life. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension
that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought
to make it obedient to Christ.” And that is what I must do, through the power of
God’s Spirit.

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