Romans 5 (Series week 3)

The video for week 3 can be watched at the bottom of this page.

Bible reading: Romans 5.

Today marks the half-way point of our series in Romans 1-8.  In chapters 1-3 we saw that all have sinned, and all are without excuse; all are guilty of having ignored and rebelled against God.  Paul wrote this specifically for the Jew/Gentile Greek/non-Greek situation in the Roman church, but it applies just as easily to us.  All have sinned.

The end of Romans 3 takes up the theme that Jesus is the solution, and that is pursued in detail in chapters 4-6.  Last week in chapter 4 Paul focused on Abraham as the Father of faith to all who believe.  As he believed God’s word to him and acted on it, so it is now for us to believe in Jesus and act on that.  Just as God credited Abraham’s faith to him as righteousness (right with God), so God credits our faith in Jesus to us as righteousness.  That was Romans 4.

Romans 5 starts with a “therefore”.  Paul likes steps in his arguments, and “therefore” signals a summary of where we have reached so far.  Where have we reached?  Because we have been justified (made right with God), we now have peace with God.

Again, go to the law.  If you are hauled before the courts on a charge, it means you are in conflict with the law of the land.  If the judge declares you not guilty, the conflict is passed and you now have peace.  Likewise if you are found guilty but later pardoned, once pardoned you have peace.  Likewise if you’re found guilty and pay your fine or complete your incarceration, once done you have peace with the law.

This is what Paul means here.  Because God has declared you to be right with God (righteous) because of your faith in Jesus, you have peace.

Peace with who or what?  Peace with God, firstly, but the implication is also peace with God’s law.  Who will bring a charge against those to whom God has credited righteousness?  No one that matters.  Between you and God it is settled.  In truth I don’t know if the price is paid or the charges are dropped, or if the law has been changed – that question is how God has done it, and we have multiple attempts at describing the how.  The thing that matters is the what – God has declared you righteous because of your faith in Jesus, and that settles it in the highest court.

What happens after a judge says “not guilty”?  The charged walk free.  What happens when a prisoner completes their sentence?  Or is paroled? They walk free.  Can anyone then walk up to them and demand they be thrown back in prison?  Of course not – there is no longer any charge against them.  They are right with the state.

So it is that if God declares you righteous then there is no longer a charge against you.  And if your faith in Jesus satisfies God, then that is God’s business.  But for you, your sins are forgiven (ie pardoned) and you are right with God.  This is everything.

Paul writes “we boast in our hope of the glory of God”, since we have been put right with God.  But their circumstances in Rome are uncertain at best and deadly dangerous at worst, and he acknowledges this, but even persevering through suffering produces hope.  Rome cannot defeat God’s purpose in you if you hold fast to your faith.

While I would never want to make light of the suffering you might have to endure, it has been the testimony of many who have suffered terribly – that holding fast to Jesus through their suffering brought hope into the darkness, and hope for a brighter future.

You see, when you and I and all the world was lost in sin, Jesus died for the ungodly, for the rebel, for the lost.  His love for you, while you were lost, was breaker than life.  His blood was shed for you while you were lost; his life was given for you while you were lost.

This is the God who wants to acquit the guilty.  This is the God who stops at nothing to help you find the path to life.  So if you put your faith in Jesus despite your circumstances, what can steal your hope?  Do you lose hope because of someone else’s lack of faith?  How do you know the limits of what God can do?  Who explained to you the limits of God’s love and the length of his arm?

If God has reached you, when you were beyond hope, why cannot God reach them also, even if you think they are beyond hope?  This is God we’re talking about – God who is powerful and able to find ways, and I don’t mind betting that God’s ways are not yet exhausted.  Dare to hope in Jesus, even if to your eyes all hope is lost.

Paul goes on to distinguish between the blood of Jesus justifying us (acquitted, forgiven), and being delivered from God’s wrath.  The difference is mostly lost on us, as we would hear them as two sides of the same thing.

The remainder of chapter 5, which is the majority, is spent on one further image – that of the difference between Adam and Jesus.  Despite all the words he is essentially saying that as sin and death came through Adam to all who are in Adam, so righteousness and life have come through Jesus to all who are in Jesus.

Again, it is a very Jewish image, but because Adam pre-dates Abraham, it again intentionally applies to everyone.

However it leads Paul back to the law, because it defines the sin that Adam introduced.  But then he makes his declaration that the law can only condemn the guilty – it is all that the law can do.  And because the law reigned, death reigned over all.

But now Jesus has overcome the power of sin and blazed a path that leads to life.  And since Jesus is greater than the law, life reigns for those who put their faith in him.  God declares them righteous (right with God), therefore no longer guilty, but free.

This is where we find ourselves – free by faith in Jesus.

Video of week 3 readings and message, runs 27:18.

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