A New Life
I want to do something a little different today and just leave you with Paul’s thoughts on the struggle we often find ourselves in. We will often find it hard, if not impossible, to do what we know we should – the right thing, the good thing. We look for solutions in all kinds of places, but can never really find freedom from that fight. In Romans Paul deals with this head on and to the Jews, they were trying to find victory in keeping the law. What fight are you in? Looking for victory but can’t find it? Ready for a new life? Listen carefully to what Paul is saying…
“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, so we might live new lives by uniting with him in his death, we will be raised to life as he was. Remember that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.”
“Stop giving sin a place in your life – it has no power over you! Do not keep living as if you are enslaved to it, instead present your life to God, surrender to Him, and live in His righteousness!” (Paul – Romans 6-7)
I am praying we all live in this reality. The resurrection of Jesus has given us the opportunity to live a new life, a better life. A life we cannot find anywhere else. Are you ready to stop fighting a battle you can’t win and start trusting Jesus – who fought your fight, and won!?
Peace With God
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Life without peace is a life in chaos. A life in chaos ruins us and is not the life God created us to live. Are you living the life God created you for or are you living in insecurity, fear, and conflict? Are you living in chaos?
Living life in constant conflict, with a lack of confidence, uncertainty, and lack of security is exhausting. In fact when we live in any of those for an extended period of time it dramatically impacts how we live, how we respond to various situations in life, and the quality of life we have. If you live with a lack of confidence you may never make a decision or live the life you want because you never take a step forward. If you are always looking over your shoulder afraid someone is going to take advantage of you, attack you, or steal from you, then you will always live in fear and always be defensive. Conflict destroys your relationships, your attitude, and your trust in others. Living like this will make you do some pretty crazy things after a while – maybe even desperate things – in an attempt to find peace, find some confidence, or security. In an attempt to survive the only way we know how.
Paul reminds us that in Christ there is a different way – a better way. In this life, even in the worst moments of this life we can have peace with God. With that peace comes access to the very powerful and protective grace of God. When we put our faith and trust in Jesus He heals our relationship with God the Father (and with others when we let Him) giving us peace. But, He doesn’t stop there, we are given access to a place of safety – the presence of God – God’s grace. Think of this as a safe harbor ships find in the midst of a storm. God is that very harbor for us.
Paul also tells us we have a new foundation and security in which we can stand. This peace and this grace give us confidence and peace of mind. We aren’t standing on the life we create or the safety we attempt to find. We are standing on God’s grace – a certain strength, a certain help, a certain guide, and certain confidence. No matter what happens in life, we can always stand on Him.
If you find yourself in chaos today (and even if you aren’t). I encourage you to find your peace, safety, and stability in Jesus. He is the only one that can guarantee it – even in the midst of the storms.
God Is Faithful
True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true….
Have you ever entrusted something to someone hoping they would do right by you or do something good with what you entrusted to them? Sometimes we entrust ourselves to people through friendships, marriages, etc… We trust them to be a good friend, a good spouse, or even a good parent. When people break that trust, when they let us down, it can be devastating and it can turn our life upside down.
Well, that is kind of the situation Paul is talking about here in Romans. God had entrusted a great mission and truth to the Jewish people. He had entrusted Himself to them as they were supposed to be the people telling the world about God. But, they didn’t do that. They let God down. So, Paul raises the question now of what does that mean for God? Does that make Him unfaithful – will it hinder Him from fulfilling His promises and saving His creation? How devastating is their unfaithfulness to God?
The good news is – their unfaithfulness doesn’t change God’s faithfulness. Their lies doesn't change God’s truth. He will find a way to fulfill the promise He made to Abraham and to all of us. He will provide a way for people to be saved despite our unfaithfulness and our lies. Paul later tells us that God found a way in Jesus.
Jesus is the ultimate display of God’s faithfulness and His ability to fulfill His promises even when our sinfulness gets in the way. There is great hope in this reality because it means no matter how much we might mess up we can never mess up so much that God would walk away. We can never sin to the point where we stop God’s plan of redemption from moving forward. God will keep working His will and fulfilling His promises. The question isn’t really about God’s faithfulness, it is about ours. Will we be faithful to God knowing how faithful He is to us? He will keep moving – with or without us. It is up to us if we go with Him or not.
In life people are always going to let us down. But, God never will. His invitation to join Him – to be forgiven, to be saved, to live the abundant and joy filled life He has for us – is always there. No matter how much we have let others down, let ourselves down, and even let Him down. God is always there – always faithful. Will you join Him?
They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God…
Knowledge is an amazing thing. Some people will tell you that knowledge is power. That might be true. But, knowledge is also a burden. With knowledge comes an incredible amount of responsibility. Once we have obtained knowledge we are left with a choice – what are we going to do with the knowledge we have? How will we respond to it? Will we allow that knowledge to shape us in some way?
In Paul’s letter to the Romans he is challenging them on that very idea. They have all this knowledge. They have the proof of God’s existence in creation around them, in the written law they have shared and studied for generations, and now in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They have so much knowledge that they have been left without excuse. But, despite all this knowledge they still chose to not honor God, worship Him, or live for Him. Instead they have chosen a life of evil and brokenness. So, he asks them again, what will you do with this knowledge? Will this knowledge produce in you a life of surrender and obedience of faith?
Think of this as a trust fall – you know where someone stands on a chair or something while others stand behind them read to catch them when they fall. The person on the chair falls willingly into their arms. Think about those people as being your knowledge of God and His saving work through the cross of Jesus. You have this knowledge? Has it turned into faith?
Faith is the falling part. Faith is saying I have this knowledge and I am ready to act on it. I will give my life in surrender and obedience to Him because I fully trust Him. Put yourself up on that chair with this knowledge and now decide – will you fall, step eagerly into this faith, or jump? Do you truly believe, trust in, the One you have knowledge about? According to Paul, if you don’t act, if you don’t fall into the arms, the knowledge wont get you very far.
I pray we all have knowledge of who God is and that knowledge results in a life of obedience of faith – a life of surrender to God and His plans for us.
Pastor Matt Huff leads Portland Central Nazarene Church. He loves being in ministry and seeing lives transformed by the power of Christ.