"1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."
"1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. 17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” 25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God."
Romans is written by the Apostle Paul to the church in Rome around 58 AD. The book is divided into two sections: the first dealing with doctrine of the Christian faith, and the second dealing with the practical applications of the Christian faith. In chapter 1, we read about those who have witnessed God's glory through creation and chosen to reject Him, choosing instead the worship of knowledge and self. This pursuit was prevalent in Rome during this time, much like it is today. The people thought themselves superior to God, and they valued knowledge over spiritual salvation. Verse 25 states that they "exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator."
The Jews and the Gentiles (anyone not Jewish) did not get along. The Jews thought themselves superior to other nations because they received the written word of God and were His chosen people (Deuteronomy 7:6-8). While that is true, Jesus came to save every person, regardless of their ethnicity, background, or status (John 3:16); His salvation is for all who believe in Him. In this chapter, we see Paul addressing the hypocrisy of those who say they obey the Law of the Lord outwardly, but who do not obey the Word of God inwardly.
In the first few chapters of Romans, Paul is laying the foundation that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. God has chosen to display His existence and greatness through His creation, so that we might all know Him and choose Him, for He doesn't wish for any of us to perish for eternity because of a lack of knowledge (2 Peter 3:9). Creation reveals the glory of the Lord (Psalms 19:1-2). However, there are those who worship knowledge, who have seen and embraced creation, but knowingly rejected the God who made it. They view themselves as superior to God and His ways; but, in that superiority they display an inferiority as they settle for the worship of a mere creature, rather than a supreme, all-powerful God (vs. 22-23). We see this a lot in our world today - people placing a high value on worldly knowledge and acceptance, but dismissing God altogether, thinking the idea of Him elementary and His means of salvation too simplistic. In the pursuit of knowledge, they have completely missed the purpose of creation and forfeited the Spirit for the world, thereby becoming fools. When the devil is given a foothold in the mind, scales begin to form on the spiritual eyes, making one more and more hardened to God, His Word and His conviction (Psalms 119:18, Isaiah 44:18). Being in such a vulnerable state also means one will be more susceptible to sin and to any lie that Satan dangles as bait. Hook, line and sinker. So, what can we learn from this today? Satan wants us to buy into the lie that God isn't trustworthy (Genesis 3:4). He is out to deceive us and to get us to distrust the One person in whom we can put our faith and on whom we can truly rely. Let us look beyond what we see in front of us and seek after what creation points to - God the Creator. Let us become intimately acquainted with our Creator through His Word, so that we can be reminded of recount after recount of His faithfulness and trustworthiness. And, let's lay aside the pursuit of worldly knowledge and acceptance and press into the God of all wisdom, who gives generously to all who ask and believe (James 1:5).
In Chapter 2, hypocrisy is addressed; a subject we all know too well, whether we ourselves practice it or have been hurt by it. In verse 24, Paul says that the Gentiles have been turned away from the Gospel because of the hypocrisy of the Jews. This message isn't only directed at the Jews, but is relevant to us today, too. Saying we love God, listening to Christian music, praying openly in front of others, attending church, serving others - none of it makes us saved. Salvation only comes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (John 14:6, John 3:16). Carrying the pretense of being "Christians" without actually obeying Christ inwardly causes a lot of lost people to be turned off from Christianity. People need to see that there is something different about Christ's followers. If we don't look any different to them, then they won't see their own need for salvation. Forget about impressing others or trying to be relatable to non-Christians - God doesn't call us to take things into our own hands. We are called to conform to His image, bring glory to His name, and point others to Christ through our obedience and adherence to His Word. When we follow after God with our whole heart, when we read and obey His Word, when we seek to bring glory and honor to His name only, God will take care of the rest. We don't need to show others their sin through our judgment; they know it's there. And, when they see you and I walking out our faith in a loving way that brings glory to God, they will want to know the God who saved and freed us.
1) What does it mean to not be ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16-17)? Do you find yourself conforming to the world's standards so that you don't stand out or so that you look like a more relatable Christian to non-believers? Following Christ and obeying His Word will cause us to stand out. If people around us don't know we are Christians by our words and actions, then we have some serious heart and obedience issues we need to work out with God.
2) In what ways do you elevate your own knowledge and ways above God's, keeping in mind that anything that goes against His Word is seeking to raise itself as a high place and sinful stronghold in your heart and mind? Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.
3) As children of God, Satan has no authority in our lives unless we give him access through our unrepentant disobedience to God's Word. When the devil is given a foothold in the mind, scales begin to form on the spiritual eyes, making one more and more hardened to God, His Word and His conviction (Psalms 119:18, Isaiah 44:18). Being in such a vulnerable state also means one will be more susceptible to sin and to any lie that Satan dangles as bait. What are some areas in your life to which you have given Satan access and need to allow God to cleanse? Read Psalm 51:10 and spend some time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to reveal in you any way that is not in alignment with God's Word.
Father God, you are above all things. You have displayed your glory and splendor through your creation for all to see, that they might come to know you. Lord, please forgive me for the ways I have elevated myself, my knowledge, my opinions and my ways above yours. I ask that you create a clean heart in me and cleanse any unrighteousness present in me, Lord (Psalms 51:10). Keep me free from the worship of anyone or anything other than you. Make me sensitive to the sin in and around me, so that I will not tolerate anything you have deemed unholy and unrighteous. Father, I pray that if there is any area of my life that I have given Satan free rein and access, that you would show me and remove the scales on my eyes; enlighten the eyes of my understanding, that I may see and know the Truth (Ephesians 1:17-19). Show me your way and strengthen me in obedience to your command. Lord, keep my eyes on you so that I will look to you to be my marker of holiness, not others. Keep my mind from comparison and justification of sin. Surround me with upright, Godly people who can encourage and build up my faith and keep me accountable to any sin to which I may be prone. Lord, I pray you would establish and maintain a purity in my heart and mind, so that I might not sin against you. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen!