are not here just to teach the Word so people can have a better
understanding of scripture. That is just part of it. We are here to teach
the Word so that people might have a better understanding, then that they
might take that understanding and act upon it as they face the various
trials of their life. As we apply the Word in our life, that is the key.
If I am still the same, even though I may have understood a lot of truth,
if it has not changed me, it has not yet accomplished its purpose in my
can break Romans up into four different parts. That is what we have been
doing. Somebody asked once, "How do you eat an elephant?" Well, one bite
at a time. Romans is a big elephant. We are eating it in four bites. The
first bite is chapters 1-5. We are going to go back and look through those
again. Chapters 1-5 tell us that we are justified by faith alone in Christ
alone. As a result of that, He removes the penalty of our sin. The second
division would be chapters 6-8. They tell us the marvelous teaching that
we are no longer under law, we are no longer responsible to do it in the
energy of our flesh. Now we are under grace and being under grace, we are
free, not just from the penalty of sin, but from the power of sin.
Chapters 9-11 would be the third part and that is what we are about to
enter into. That talks about the sovereign power of God in light of our
salvation. Then in chapters 12-16 we learn the practical instruction of
how to take everything we have learned from 1-11 and put it to use in our
life. That is the book of Romans. We have taken the first two bites out of
it. We have gone from chapter 1 through chapter 8.
remember, to understand it does not necessarily mean that you have learned
it yet. You learn it by living it, by putting it to use in light of your
every day circumstances. And if we are not living in it, then we have
deluded ourselves. We think we know it, but we really donít. We havenít
yet seen that it is to change and transform our lives. So the first thing
I want us to look at is bite number one, chapters 1-5.
of all, we learned the good news of God involves being set free from the
penalty of sin. Letís go back to Romans 1:1. Paul sets the whole basis for
the book right here in his attitude. Verse 1 says, "Paul, a bond-servant
of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of
God." The word "gospel" comes from two words, good and news, the good news
see in that verse that he was surrendered. The word "bond-servant" is the
key. It is the word "slave" (doulos). Actually, "bond-servant", as
the New American Standard translates it, gives a better picture. A person
who has received the good news of God is a person who does what he does
not because he has to, but because he gets to. It is a privilege. He loves
God and he chooses to obey because it brings great joy in obeying the One
in whom he serves. He is set apart. He is sent.
begins to frame who is writing the book to the church there in Rome. In
chapter 1 Paul shows how necessary the good news is, not just for the
lost, but also for the saved. We are not in that performance mode anymore.
Now we are in business with Him. He does in and through us what we canít
do ourselves. That is good news!
only do the lost need to hear this, but the saved need to hear it. Romans
1:14 says, "I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both
to the wise and to the foolish." The word "barbarians" simply means you
donít have the Greek culture. So he is under obligation to the lost to
tell them the good news. They canít save themselves. Jesus did for man
what man could not do for himself. Salvation is through Jesus Christ. That
is the good news to the lost.
However, there is also good news to the saved. Paul says in verse 15,
"Thus, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in
Rome." He is writing to the church. He said, "I canít wait to get there to
preach the good news of God to you. You need to hear it just as much as
the lost people need to hear it." So we begin to get the emphasis here.
This good news is not what man can do for God. It is what God can do for,
in and through a man. You see, what you can do for God is religion. That
is manís good news. But it is bad in the sight of God. What God can do
through you is a relationship and that is truly good news. Christianity is
not what we can do for God. Christianity is what God can do through us.
we come down to verse 16 of chapter 1 and Paul says, "For I am not ashamed
of the gospel [the good news], for it is the power of God for salvation to
everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." Itís the
power of God, not the power of man, for everyone to be saved. The word
"saved" means rescued, delivered. We have been saved, and we are being
saved. Itís the power of God to do what man could not do.
the key verse, I believe, to the whole book of Romans is found in verse 17
of chapter 1: "For in it [the gospel, the good news of what God can do]
the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith." Now
righteousness is what God requires of every man. Righteousness is right
conduct, the kind of character that God requires. As a matter of fact,
when Moses was on the scene, God gave a law that required a righteous
character that man could not live up to. How then can righteousness ever
be revealed? Well, Paul goes on and says, "as it is written, ĎBut the
righteous man shall live by faith.í" He quotes out of Habakkuk, and
he is telling us something here. It is not me doing righteousness for God,
it is God doing righteousness in and through me, by my cooperation, by my
willingness to surrender to Him. So that right living, that right
character, the very characteristic of God Himself comes only when I am
willing to walk by faith.
Romans 5:2, Paul says when you walk by faith you access grace and when you
access grace, grace is the transforming power that God has in our life.
This is the good news that Paul wants to take to man. Paul shows how
desperate man is to get it in chapter 1:19 through chapter 3:20. Let go
back to verse 18 as he gets into that. He wants to show you how bad the
situation has gotten. He says, "For the wrath of God is revealed from
heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress
the truth in unrighteousness."
donít know if you have seen it or not, but from verse 19 all the way
through 3:20, there are two ways to suppress the truth of who God is and
the truth of what God requires. Man cannot produce what God requires. God
has to be living in a man before that can ever been produced. How do
people suppress truth? First of all, the word "suppress" is katecho.
It is the word that means to hold down, to squash or to suppress.
when I played ball we had something called "Tough Skin". "Tough Skin" was
something you sprayed on a rash that put a skin-like coating over it. You
still have the hurt, but now when you try to scratch, you canít get to it
because of that layer that is there. They would keep on spraying layer
over layer over layer over layer. After a while the hurt is there, but you
have no way of getting to it because you have suppressed something. You
have covered it over. You have put it to a point that nobody can get to
the years the generations and nations have suppressed truth. There are two
ways to suppress truth. One is through open rebellion, to present a
lifestyle that tells people they donít need the truth of what God is, they
donít need God at all in their life. As a matter of fact, they profess
themselves to be wise.
there is another way to suppress truth. In chapter 2:1 through chapter
3:20 we see it is through religion. I call it obnoxious religion: that
religion, that form, that denies the power thereof. There are people today
who donít want to hear the message of grace in Romans. They donít want to
hear the fact that they canít make themselves holy, that they only
cooperate and choose, but God has to produce that holiness in man. They
would rather see themselves as separating themselves, rather than God
doing that separating work in their life. So religion becomes a form. It
is something we do and not something that we are being made into, that we
see, religion is a way to suppress truth of what God requires. The truth
is that every deed done in the body is going to be judged one day, and it
is not going to be what I have done for God, it is going to be what God
has done through me as I have been willing to obey Him. I am going to tell
you something; they are going to draw a line between those who are
believers and those who are simply religious. Religion suppresses truth
just like open, outright rebellion suppresses truth. It is a pitiful
society that we live in, but we have not yet learned why it is that way.
Paul is going to tell us in just a moment. He shows the desperate
condition of man for the good news of God. Not only can God save a man,
but God sanctifies a man. The man cooperates, he receives, he obeys, yes,
but God takes the load on Himself. God is the one who does that in and
shows not only the two ways that man can suppress truth, but in 3:21 he
begins to talk about justification by faith alone in Christ alone. He
begins to talk about the good news. If you will remember, when we were
studying through this, we raced through chapter 3 and verse 20 and started
slowing down in verse 21. The bad news is bad enough. Letís talk about the
good news. He starts off in verse 21 by saying, "But now apart from the
Law." Automatically your focus shifts from what I can do for God to
evidently what God must have done for me apart from the law. Then in
chapter 4 he shows you that Abraham himself had to be justified. He shows
you that Abraham believed in the same Christ we believe in. Abraham looked
forward to the day that Christ would come and die for our sins. We look
back to the event that He has already come and died for our sins. But it
is the same Christ who saved them in the Old Testament, who saves us in
the New Testament. Abraham believed and it was accounted to him as
in chapter 5, after showing us how Abraham had to believe and talking
about justification, our acquittal, our being declared righteous was only
by what Jesus did for us on the cross and only by putting our faith into
Him, he starts talking about the results of that. He talks about having
peace with God, standing eternally in the grace of God. Then he comes down
into verse 6 and shows us the helpless condition that we were in when
Jesus came to die for us.
next to a precious lady one day on a plane. She told me, "I grew up in a
religious family, but I grew up in a legalistic background. I just turned
off on church. I tried to be good. I tried going to church. I tried being
this. I tried being that. But I just couldnít live up to my parentsí
standards and I couldnít live up to the churchís standards, so I just quit
going." She said, "It doesnít work for me. I just canít be good enough."
sitting there with my lap-top computer, so I said, "Can I show you
something?" She said, "Absolutely." So I turned on my computer. I said,
"Now how good do you think you have to be in order to get saved?" She
said, "A lot better than I am." I said, "Well, go on and tell me. Just
give me a level. Give me something to go by." She tried to tell me a few
things that she thought she had to do that she couldnít do to be saved.
took her over to Romans 5 and I showed her these verses. I had them
highlighted. I said, "Look here. In verse 6 of Romans 5, look at what we
were. He says, ĎFor while we were still helpless.í Do you understand what
that word means? It is like paralyzed from the neck down. Canít do a thing
for ourselves." I said, "It is amazing to me. How good can I be if I am
helpless? Then it goes on to say, ĎFor while we were still helpless, at
the right time Christ died for the ungodly.í" I said, "Now wait a minute
now. Do you mean He died for people who werenít good? Do you know what
ungodly means?" I explained the word to her. As a matter of fact, I showed
her in the dictionary what the word meant. She said, "Wow." Then I took
her down to verse 8: "ĎBut God demonstrates His own love toward us, in
that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.í Now how good do you
think people are? What were they doing that you are not doing?"
took her down to verse 10: "ĎFor if while we were enemies, we were
reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been
reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.í" I said, "Look here.
ĎHelpless,í Ďungodly,í Ďsinnersí and Ďenemies of Godí. Now how good do you
think you ought to be?" She just sat there with a look on her face that
said, "I donít think I have ever heard this before." I asked her, "Do you
understand what grace is?" For almost two hours, I showed her what grace
is. She came out of a strict religious church. She came out of a church
that required a lot of commitment. She finally looked at me when I
finished and with tears in her eyes she said, "I have never heard that
is good news, folks, that is good news. You canít be good enough for God.
Have you tried to do that? You canít be good enough for God. If you could
be good enough, then why did He have to die? He had to die because we
canít be good enough for Him. Then He comes to live in us to enable us to
do that which has been required all along.
see, back when you were lost, the law hung over you. Everything you tried
to do, the law condemned. You couldnít do it. Oh, but under grace, Jesus
died for you and Jesus lives in you. As we learn to obey Him and choose to
walk in harmony with Him, then He accesses that grace in us and He does
through us what we could never do for ourselves.
what caused us to be that way? That was the question she had. In other
words, if it is this bad, what caused the whole thing to be this way? I
took her to Romans 5:12 and kept right on going. Verse 12 says,
"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death
through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." I said,
"Do you realize because of one manís sin, you are born into sin?" Do you
know, she caught this. I said, "Listen, it is not what a man does that
sends him to hell, it is what he is. He is either in Adam or he is in
Christ. If he is born once, he is in Adam. If he has been born twice, he
is in Christ. That is what Jesus said to Nicodemus. He said, ĎSon, you
need to be born again.í You have to be taken out of Adam and put into
Christ and that is what salvation is. It is not what you do, it is what
you are. That is why religion wonít cut it."
said, "Let me ask you a question. What if you and I go down on the edge of
Cape Town in South Africa. Antarctica is the next place down. Letís just
say we are going to try to jump to see who can get to Antarctica from the
southernmost tip of South Africa. Letís just say that you take off and you
jump 25 feet out in the water. That is good. Here I come, and I trip and
fall, so about three feet of me is laying in the water. You beat me by 20
something feet. You jumped further than I did. But remember, it is about
900 more miles to get to your destination. It doesnít matter how far you
can jump. You canít touch the distance it is to get there. You can be as
good as you want to be, but you canít span the gap of what God requires.
No man can get there through religion. It is by what Christ has done for
you and by putting your faith into Him."
showed her in chapter 5 and verse 20 it says, "And the Law came in that
the transgression might increase, but where sin increased, grace abounded
all the more." In other words, God did more than was necessary. It was
necessary for Him to die in order for us to be free from the penalty of
sin, but He went on beyond that. He not only freed us from the penalty, He
freed us from the power and one day He is going to free us from the
presence of sin. He went way beyond what was required that caused us to be
penalized to eternal hell. He went way beyond. Grace abounded all the
when you think of chapters 1-5, you think of justification by faith in
Christ and Christ alone. Then you think about the fact that it frees me
from the penalty of sin. What He did for me on the cross, I could have
never done myself. When Adam sinned, it was accounted to me. When I put my
faith in Jesus, what He did is not accounted to me, it is put to my
account. His Spirit comes to live in me which houses His life and His
righteousness and now I am righteous. Now I have the life of God in me,
not because of what I did but because of what Jesus, the God-man, did for
me on the cross. That is chapters 1-5, the good news of God.