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.
I love Paul’s introductions to his letters. There is a humbleness and boldness as he lays out who he is in Christ and the authority that has been given to him. Paul uses this time to remind the reader that he has the credentials to back whatever is going to be said in the letter. Sometimes I wonder if we need to have our own introduction moment at the start of each day to remind us of who we are and what authority we have in Christ.
Longing to Go to Rome
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.
The Righteous Shall Live by Faith
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.”
Paul was not ashamed of the gospel and he proved that by the way he lived his life. As we have just finished reading through the book of Acts, we got to see that Paul was beaten, abused and shipwrecked yet continued to proclaim the gospel wherever he went. When you are ashamed of something you hide it and keep it secret. Much like that super comfy yet hideous t-shirt or sweatpants that you would never wear out of the house. You love them but would never dream of being seen in public wearing them. A lot of us treat the gospel that way, we love it but are afraid of what people might say or do if we tell them. Jesus never said we had to be fearless to follow him and so it is okay to be afraid. Paul even admits that he was fearful (1 Cor. 2:3). But just because we are afraid does not give use an excuse to be to remain silent, instead it should drive you to trust God more as you place your hope in him. The gospel is the power of God, so whether or not you are afraid, you must unleash it into the lives around you.
God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness
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.
God has revealed himself to all humanity so that no one can claim they never knew him. I often get asked if God is really going to send people who never heard the name of Jesus to Hell. In response I usually point to this passage. God has revealed himself through the order of creation and in the hearts of people. But as Paul goes on to explain how instead of surrendering to God, we begin worshiping his creation or even fashion our own creations. In past times they would make statues to worship. In modern times, we are a little more subtle and make idols out of money, success, family and many other things.
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.
When God allows humans to follow their hearts, they end up contrary to the way God created them. The example Paul uses is Homosexuality. God created man and woman to come together for procreating. When humanity follows it hearts if ignores the created purpose and abuses the pleasure part. Thus, through the unnatural act homosexuality there is no way to make new life. While this is the example, it is just the tip of the iceberg. The reason Sin is so bad is because it is the perversion of God’s order of creation and rebellion against him.
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