The Way - Day 108 (Romans 1)

Daily Reading:
Romans 1
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
In Romans 1 Paul talks about how God is righteous to judge sinners. How does remembering our sin and brokenness in light of God's justice set us up to have a fuller understanding of the beauty of God's gift of salvation?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 37:4-5
OPTION 2: Proverbs 15:16-17
OPTION 3: Matthew 5:45-46
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Romans 1 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Introduction to Romans
Writing from the city of Corinth somewhere around AD 56-58 (Acts 20:3), Paul addressed this epistle (letter) "to all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints" (Romans 1:7). Rather than viewing this writing to only one church at Rome, it may be more accurate to assume that there were many Christian churches in Rome occupied by both Jews and Gentiles; therefore, the letter was delivered by Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2) and circulated amongst all the churches throughout Rome. It is also very likely that Paul wrote the letter of Romans toward the conclusion of his third missionary journey as he prepared to deliver a financial gift to the church at Jerusalem, which he had collected upon visiting the churches at Macedonia and Achaia (Romans 15:25-27; see also Acts 19:21; 20:1-5; 21:15, 17-19).

Throughout Paul's ministry, he had a strong desire to visit Rome but had often faced bad circumstances which prohibited him from going there. Although Paul continually faced obstacles in getting to Rome, he felt as if they needed instruction from an apostle about the doctrines and teachings of the gospel. Because of Paul's love for the people at Rome, where he was a citizen (Acts 16:37; 22:25), he was willing to take whatever measures necessary to ensure their understanding of the truth. The churches at Rome were probably not too familiar with the apostle Paul, but this writing would have provided them with a formal introduction to him.
Paul does not seem to be writing this letter to correct false doctrine, erroneous teachings, or immoral lifestyles, but rather to construct a beautifully doctrinal as well as practical treatise. It seems as if Paul writes with four purposes in mind: to provide a fuller understanding of the gospel (Romans 1-5), to explain the results of receiving the gospel (Romans 6-8), to detail Israel's response to the gospel (Romans 9-11), and to encourage living a life demonstrating the gospel (Romans 12-15). Throughout our study, we will follow these topics in detail to better understand the salvation provided through Jesus Christ and the change which takes place in our life.

Romans 1:1-17
Paul introduces himself as the writer of this letter to the Romans and identifies that he has been sent with the gospel of God which was promised by the Old Testament prophets "concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (1:1-4). This gospel of God is the good news (Mark 1:1) of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to forgive the sins of all those who will believe in Him (John 3:36; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The forgiveness of the believing man's sin was good news because he is no longer under sin's power or penalty, but instead has a right standing before God with eternal life as his inheritance. Through Jesus Christ's death for sin, Paul declares that "we have received grace [undeserved favor] and apostleship for obedience to the faith [obedience to God's word] among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ..." (1:5-6).

Paul then formally sends his greetings "to all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1:7). After greeting his readers, he immediately commends them for their reputation of strong faith throughout the Roman Empire (1:8) and assures them of his prayers for them (1:9). Along with praying for them, Paul also prayed for himself to have the opportunity to visit them soon to "impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established - that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me" (1:10-12). Furthermore, Paul desired to visit the churches at Rome so that he could see spiritual growth in their lives (1:13) and also preach the gospel throughout Rome (1:14-15). Paul was so passionate about the gospel because it had changed his life and now he wanted others to also see that God could transform their lives, whether they were a Jew or Gentile (1:16). He was convinced that faith in the gospel (life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins) could bring righteousness from God to the sinner so that he could now live a life by faith. The ultimate result of faith in Jesus Christ is that the sinner is declared righteous on the basis of Jesus' death and receives eternal life on the basis of Jesus' resurrection.

Through Paul's introductory words, the reader can see a great passion for the gospel as well as spiritual fruit from those who believe in Jesus Christ. As Paul wrote to the Romans hundreds of years ago, the modern-day Christian must also believe in Jesus Christ through faith and continue living his life by faith (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Romans 1:18-32
Paul has already established that faith in the gospel (life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for sin) brings righteousness from God because the sinner is declared righteous not by his works, but on the basis of Jesus' work on the sinner's behalf (1:16-17). In other words, when Jesus died on the cross, He took our sins upon Himself in exchange for His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). After revealing this truth, Paul wanted his readers to fully understand why they needed the righteousness of Jesus Christ, so he begins a detailed description of sin and its affects on the human race.

First of all, Paul exposes the fact that God's response to sin was "wrath...from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men..." (1:18). In the beginning, God made it very clear to Adam and Eve that their disobedience would bring punishment by death (Genesis 2:15-17), but they thought life would be better by making their own choices (Genesis 3:1-7). Choosing to live independent of God always brings His judgment because no "crime" can go without punishment. Instead of obeying the truth, the offspring of Adam and Eve (human race) has continued embracing sinful lifestyles and practices which are contrary to God's law. It is not as if God has not hidden Himself or the truth, but rather He has made the truth knowable through human reason (1:19) and the magnificence of His creation (1:20). No person can boldly declare that they did not understand what God expected because He has supernaturally placed within man the knowledge of His existence and moral law.

What is Paul trying to communicate to the Romans? Man's sinfulness is without excuse and is a direct result of ignoring the truth (1:18, 20). Paul describes it this way, "Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were they thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened" (1:21). Man thinks he knows best, but his rejection of God and worship of other things, in reality, proves his foolishness (1:22-25). Worshipping things other than God brings His abandonment and man allows himself to become more evil as each day passes. Rejecting God leads men to commit sins such as homosexuality (1:26-27) and pursuing worthless things (1:28), but Paul also provides a comprehensive list of sins which characterize those who reject God: "unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness [greed], maliciousness [enjoying the suffering of others]; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness...whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful..." (1:29-31). Those who practice these things are deserving of death (1:32).

The opening words of Paul are bleak as he describes the true nature of man's heart. Left to our own devices, man will become involved in a downward spiral away from God and sink deeper into a lifestyle of sin. Instead of seeing this picture that Paul has painted as someone else, see it as yourself. This is the potential picture of any man or woman who chooses to live life on their own without God.

Dear God, today may we see the true nature of our heart and turn to You in repentance.