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Andy and Melissa Beshore

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Exposition of Romans - Chapter 1




Exposition of Romans
written by Andy (edited and organized by Melissa)

Introduction

The book of Romans might be the most significant non-Gospel book in the entire New Testament. Romans has such a wealth of sound theology for practical application to the Christian’s life. I plan on sharing what I have learned through a detailed study of the book over a series of blogs. This first blog is dedicated to covering chapter one. You might wonder how thirty-two verses can contain this much commentary, but I believe that God’s word has so much truth within its lines that what I have shared here only scratches the surface with what is actually here. In no way is this complete. I pray this is a blessing to whoever reads this. Please feel free to comment, compliment, criticize, etc. I want feedback. Thank you for considering this. I plan on doing chapter two in subsequent blogs. Keep a look out! God Bless!

Greeting – Romans 1:1-15

Paul starts Romans off by introducing the letter and sharing his intent for writing it. He is writing it to the members in the church in Rome with the purpose of teaching them the great truths of the gospel of grace to those who had never received it. He also had an obligation to God to minister to the Gentiles.

The Just Live by Faith - Romans 1:16-17

The gospel is power of God unto salvation for all peoples, regardless of ethnicity, or religious affiliation. It is totally done by God, not by us at all. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, God saves us “by His (His not in text) grace, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God (God gives it to us as His gift; we do not obtain it by ourselves), not of works (His work, not ours; not by us repeating a simple prayer-that would be our work). The righteousness of God is revealed through Gospel. In Exodus 20, God shows us His righteous standard, the Law.

God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness – Romans 1:18-32

Romans 1:18 says, God’s wrath is revealed against all unrighteousness and all ungodliness, and those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. I know of a host of people who call themselves Christians who do not want to look at their sin, its severity, and how it severely offends God. John 3:36 says, God’s wrath abides upon these people, who intentionally find their comfortable idea about God and stay there, not searching out the truth in Scripture for themselves, but only relying upon what they have heard from contemporary Christian pulpits.

Paul goes on to describe what these people are like. They think they know about God, but in reality they have made an image of God that is more acceptable to them. They say, “I don’t want to hear about God’s holiness, justice, and wrath. Give me more of that cushy ‘love, joy, peace, fulfillment and everlasting happiness’ stuff.” What does God do with people like that? Verse 24 says, He gives them over to their “uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts.” 1 John 1:6 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Instead of worshiping the one true God of the Bible, they worship the image they have made in their minds. God gives them up to pursue their wicked lifestyles, their “vile passions”. This particular pair of verses (vs. 26-27) refers to the specific sin of homosexuality, but I think it is reasonable to infer that the general practice of sin can have the same effect.

Romans 1:28 says, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge…”
When sinners choose not to follow God, they continually reject God’s truth and God’s call on their lives. It goes on to say, “God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things that are not fitting…” What patterns characterize these people who reject God? Verses 29-32 spell it out plainly and we’ve defined the words they list below. These are they who “walk in darkness,” according to 1 John 1:6. I looked up the Greek definitions of these words in the Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and also used Webster’s New World Dictionary.

Definitions of Terms

Unrighteousness – wickedness, evil, wrongdoing, iniquity, unjust, wrong

Fornication – marital unfaithfulness, prostitution, adultery, sexual sin of any kind. When people have sex with someone to whom they are not married, even if it is with someone to whom they will eventually marry, until they marry they commit this sin. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines fornication as “sexual intercourse between two unmarried persons.”

Wickedness – malice (active ill will; desire to harm another; evil intent), iniquities, a negative moral quality opposed to God and his goodness

Covetousness – greediness, avarice (greed for money). We are covetous when we aren’t satisfied with what God has already blessed us with. Always wanting more than what we already have.

Maliciousness – evil, wickedness, depravity. From the time we are born, we do things that aren’t pleasing to God (sin) without being taught to do those things.

Full of envy – goes hand in hand with covetousness. If I am jealous because someone has something I want, but do not yet have, I am not happy with what God has already blessed me with, and I am jealous of that person.

Murder – 1 John 3:15 says, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer.”

Debate – quarrel, strife, dissension (disagreement), discord. As a Christian, we shouldn’t be seeking to cause dissension among believers. But, we should speak the truth in love, even if it gets other people mad. Many people now won’t speak the truth because they think they’re being divisive if they do so.

Deceit – slyness, trickery, guile, subtilty, craft

Malignity – wicked thoughts, to speak evil of. This usually happens before we act upon our wicked deeds. Basically our mindset before we break any one of the Ten Commandments could be deemed “evil-mindedness.”

Whisperers – gossiper (one who chatters idly about others). Have you ever talked bad about someone behind their back? Gossiped?

Backbiters - slanderers, defamatory (to attack the reputation of someone)

Haters of God – those who, as a pattern of life, break God’s commands without a second thought by “walking in darkness” (1 John 1:6).

Despiteful – insolent (boldly disrespectful) man, injurious (harmful)

Proud – arrogant (having or showing great pride for oneself and contempt for others)

Boasters – braggart (an offensively boastful person)

Inventors of evil things – Constantly trying to find new ways to sin against God and do evil.

Disobedient to parents – It’s amazing how this one finds itself in the same list as murder and adultery. This is, after all the Fifth Commandment. This is very important to God. Ephesians 6:2 says, it’s the “first Commandment with a promise” (of blessing). Yet how can God bestow His blessings on children who willfully disobey Him in this area?

Without understanding – senseless, dull, foolish

Covenantbreakers – faithless, untrustworthy. If we say we are going to do something for somebody, do we follow through with it? Do we regularly keep our word? If not, we are untrustworthy.

Without natural affection – unloving. This is one of the most enigmatic terms in the Bible. I think so many professing Christians mistake “loving” with “condoning.” If you are a professing Christian, you need to be loving to your neighbor by sharing the truth with them about their sins. For example, if I was going for a walk late at night and we lived in the same neighborhood, suppose I walk by your house. I notice that your house is on fire! You are sound asleep (or at least your light is off). If I walk by your house without trying to wake you up because I do not want to awaken you from your peaceful slumber, am I being loving? Wouldn’t it be loving of me to exhaust all my resources to try to wake you up so you can get yourself and your family out of your house before you perish in the flames? Or would you rather I just let you sleep? Letting you sleep would be unloving! If I love you, I will wake you up to save you! I might even break the door down and yank you out of bed myself, trusting that you will thank me later. Even if you do not thank me, if I let you burn, I would be guilty of what the law calls “depraved indifference.” Depraved means corrupt and indifference means I couldn’t care less. So, because I decided to let you die without trying to help you, I would be corrupt because I did not care less. This is what we do if we refuse to share the truth with sinners.

Implacable – unforgiving, not reconcilable, trucebreakers. In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus tells the disciples that we should be willing to forgive our brothers and sisters as many times as necessary. We will be severely disciplined if we do not forgive others.

Unmerciful – ruthless, merciless. We should be willing to forgive our brothers and sisters when they come to us in broken humility. If we harden our hearts against them, God could do the same to us.

Romans 1:32 says, “Who knowing the righteous judgment of God…” These people to whom Paul refers know God’s standard because the law is written on their hearts, therefore they know the difference between right and wrong; their conscience bears witness (See Romans 2:15). John 1:9 tells us “That was the true Light, which gives light to every man coming into the world.” In other words, God has given us knowledge of his existence (through creation – see Romans 1:19-20). This is why we are without excuse. Romans 1:32 goes on to say, “that those who practice such things” (all things listed and explained in verses 28-31) “are deserving of death.” This is why we all will die one day – because our depraved hearts could not help but sin against God. “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4; Ezekiel 18:20). “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Romans 1:32 continues, “not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” Paul finishes the chapter by saying that all those who make their lifestyle practice conform to all the sin listed in the prior fourteen verses (Romans 1:18-31) deserve death and God’s judgment. What’s more, it’s not just practicing these things, but also condoning others who practice these things. Christians are to hunger for righteous living (See Matthew 5:6). False converts are those who have been described in the prior fourteen verses. Pay particularly close attention to the mindset Paul attributes to these people in Romans 1:28. They turned from the truth to worship the man-made lie (today’s god who condones sin and says not to open our mouths to help show people their sin so they can come to the point of Godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10), which produces repentance, which is essential for salvation (Luke 13:3, Matthew 4:17, Acts 17:30, 31)). The God of the Bible hates sin, and pours out His wrath upon sinners (John 3:36). This chapter talked about some of God’s penalty against sin.

Practical Application

What good is the Bible if we cannot apply it to our lives practically? Each one of us is born totally in rebellion to the nature and will of God. The Bible says, every intent of man’s heart is only evil continually (Genesis 6:5), the imaginations of our hearts are evil from our youth (Genesis 8:21), our hearts above all things are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) Jesus Himself called us evil in Luke 11:13 and Matthew 7:11.

Beginning at verse eighteen through the end of the chapter of Romans 1, Paul lists for us a series of ways how we can be in blatant rebellion toward God. Do any of those in the list specifically apply to you as you read this? Please do not trivialize your sin. God will not do that on Judgment Day. We should not either. Look at your sin for what it is and call it what it is: sin. Realize that it offends a righteous God, Who “hate(s) all workers of iniquity” (Psalm 5:5), Who “has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:31, Psalm 9:8), Who has to punish all workers of iniquity (Matthew 7:23), “Who will render to each according to his deeds…to those who do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness-indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil...” (Romans 2:6-9).

Please think soberly about your eternal salvation. You only have one chance at this life. Make it count. You are not guaranteed your next breath. Humble yourself now. Cry out to God. Confess and forsake your sins to God. Write a list of each of the Ten Commandments. I plan on explaining why to use the Ten Commandments in future entries. Next to each number write out how many specific instances you can remember in which you broke each of those Commandments. Then realize, you probably could not even remember everything. This should show you how much you need God’s forgiveness. Read the list to God, expressing your sorrow over your offenses directed at Him.

You have broken God’s Law too many times to be able to pay back God to balance the scales. But God, who is full of wrath, as we have discussed, is also “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4). Remember that God sent His son to live in your place. Jesus of Nazareth lived a perfect life. He did not sin a single time. "God made Him Who knew no sin to be sin for us so we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). He was brutally beaten and crucified for the sin of the whole world (according to Isaiah 53). “God commends His love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Tell God you want to turn from your sins at this moment, that you want to place your faith in Christ alone to save you. When you do that, and it is genuine, Ezekiel 36:25-27 says, God will “sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; (God) will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. (God) will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; (God) will take the heart of stone” (the one in rebellion toward God) “out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (God) will put (His) Spirit within you and cause you to walk in (His) statutes, and you will keep (His) judgments and do them.” The read your Bible daily and obey it.

Over time, you should notice some changes in your life that show evidences you have been converted. If you do not see God working in your life and changing you, then you should examine yourself to see if you are truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Read 1 John and Matthew 5-7 to get an idea of what some of those changes should look like. Thank you for reading this. May God save you, bless you, and keep you.

Andy

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