Paul writes Romans - Part three
If Abraham was justified or forgiven sins and made at right
standing with God, by earning it through working at law
obedience, so God was forced to "pay forgiveness wages" to
Abraham through works, then there was not much to glorify God in,
for to him that works for something and gets paid for his work,
in this case forgiveness of sins, then sins are not forgiven by
"grace" (undeserved forgiveness) but by earning it through works.
But Paul argues, Abraham was NOT justified by earning it but
by the grace of God, for the Scripture said that Abraham BELIEVED
God, had FAITH in God's way of justification from sins, and so
was forgiven and made righteous or at-one with God, as if he had
never sinned. So a person does not have to work at getting "ex"
number of "good points" in order to be forgiven of sins, but it
is FAITH in the way that the Lord said a person would be
justified, that is, the way to be declared righteous or sinless.
Paul says that even the great king David knew the way that
was determined before-hand by God to be made righteous or
sinless, and it was not by a system of "earning it through works"
- so it really was a blessing for someone when God would forgive
iniquities and not bring to account or claim the debt of sins to
paid - which would be the debt of death (see chapter 6:23)
If the judge makes you work by saying you must obey the red
stop light a thousand times before the one offence you committed
by going through the red light, is forgiven, then you have
"earned" by "works" your pardon or forgiveness of the offence,
But if the judge offers you pardon through the grace of his son
who paid the penalty for your offence, then you are forgiven of
the offence by "grace" and your "faith" in that gracious way
provided for you by the judge and his son. You have not "worked"
at traffic law keeping to be justified, but you have been show
grace, and so your faith in that grace, makes you forgiven, and
so you stand before the judge as righteous, or as if never having
offended the law in the first place.
This is the nut shell of what the Scriptures taught on
justification with God, and hence, what Paul was teaching as to
the truth of the matter on the subject.
WHERE DID PHYSICAL CIRCUMCISION
FIT INTO ALL THIS?
The Jews relied heavily upon the rite of physical
circumcision. As we have seen there were some who believed
circumcision was "a must" in order to be saved. They could see in
their history that circumcision started with their great father
Abraham, so to them the rite just had to be a necessary "work" to
Paul had argued correctly that NO works by Abraham earned
him justification, and in fact Abraham was justified by FAITH,
not by working at any law keeping, so the next question Paul
brings to bear on this whole subject is WHEN was Abraham declared
righteous, sinless, or justified? Was it when he was circumcised
or un-circumcised? The answer is clearly given in Genesis. It was
when he was UN-circumcised! Reading Genesis chapter 12 and
there-after will make this very plain. After Abraham was declared
righteous, THEN the rite of physical circumcision came, and it
was therefore a sign or seal, that he had righteousness by FAITH.
This showed the true light of the circumcision sign. That
physical rite had in no way given Abraham righteousness or
justification with God. Abraham was ALREADY justified
with God BEFORE the rite of circumcision was introduced upon
himself and all his physical descendants, the male descendants of
So argues Paul, Abraham is the father of justification by
faith to all, Jew or Gentile, that BELIEVE or have faith in
justification by God's grace through Christ. Even if people
are not circumcised, if they have faith as Abraham did, then
being un-circumcised meant nothing as far as being justified or
forgiven of sins before God.
The promise given to Abraham that he should be heir of the
world (another way of saying eternal life with inheritance of the
world and universe - as many Scriptures in both Old and New
Testament clearly promise) was not through working at "works of
law" - earning it all as a kind of payment for doing certain
deeds, but was through the process of having faith, that
salvation and eternal life would be by God's grace, via the
sacrifice for sins of the Son of God, who would come to take the
sins of all mankind upon Himself and so pay the death sentence
penalty, of those sins.
Paul keeps going over this truth again and again, just
coming from it in different ways and from different angles. The
bottom line he states again. If salvation and justification from
sins is earned by observing laws, then faith has no part in it,
and so the promise to Abraham that it would be by faith, is made
void, and the promise of salvation and forgiveness of sins coming
through having faith, was all useless talk by God, and is totally
of no effect.
Then looking at it from another point of view, Paul says in
verse 15, that trying to attain salvation and justification by
law keeping (any laws, physical or moral) would only bring WRATH
and doom shall we say, because a law can only reveal what
breaking it will result in....wrath, a penalty. Obvious he says,
if there is no law, there is no transgression of breaking that
law. If there is no law that says you must stop at the red light,
you cannot be breaking that law if there is no law to tell you to
stop at red lights. But there IS such a law. And so with God's
law. It IS there and unless you have NEVER ever broken it, and
never ever will break it, that law can only being wrath or doom
or punishment on you. As no one can observe the law of God
PERFECTLY, every second and minute of their life, so everyone
sooner or later will be a breaker of the law, and hence incur its
penalty, which is wrath or as Paul puts it in chapter
I have shown that no matter how many times you obey the law
of stopping at red lights, all those law keeping deeds, cannot
erase, forgive, justify you in the sight of the judge, for the
few times you broke the law and did not stop at red lights. A law
does not have "grace" or "mercy" built into it. Grace or mercy or
forgiveness from law breaking MUST come from OUTSIDE of the law
itself (verses 9-15).
I am spending a LOT of time on this correct explanation of
justification with God, as Paul had to spend a lot of time on it.
As in his day, so it is today, people on the whole are really
mixed up on the subject, and partly, or even in the main, people
are confused and mixed up on the matter because the "religious
leaders" WILL NOT teach and tell the people the truth of the
matter on this essential and FOUNDATIONAL doctrine of God. It
is not really that hard to understand at all. Many in the none
religious world have no problem understanding LAW and GRACE, and
HOW the TWO work together to make a perfect whole. How law and
grace work together in the none Christian world is exactly the
same as how law and grace work together in God's spiritual world
of law and grace. The only big difference is that God is far MORE
GRACIOUS, far more merciful, far more FORGIVING, upon REPENTANCE
and FAITH, so no penalty by us, needs to be enforced, than the
judges and laws of this world. You may repent for robbing a bank
of 10,000 dollars, but I doubt the judge or the courts of the
land would let you go without paying some penalty, just because
you had repented of the misdeed.
So, the apostle goes on, it was always God's design that
salvation would be by GRACE through FAITH, not only to those
people like the Jews, who had the law of God revealed to them,
but also to anyone who was of the faith of Abraham.
Abraham had faith in what the Lord had promised to him, and
can even bring back people from death, and call those things as
done already which are yet to be done. With God His promises are
so certain that even if they are to take place way into the
future, you can say they are already as if done (verses 16-17).
Abraham BELIEVED God when He told him that he would be a
father of MANY nations. Abraham was about ONE hundred years old,
and Sarah his wife's womb was way passed the age of
child-bearing. How could they, between them, have a son? How
could they produce offspring that would eventually be many
nations. To the human logical mind, this would be utterly
IMPOSSIBLE! But Abraham did not DOUBT God's promise, he did not
stagger at what the Lord had said, that he and Sarah would indeed
have a physical son, born from the two of them, from Abraham's
seed and from Sarah's womb. He had full faith in what God had
promised. He knew the Eternal was able to perform it. Also, the
one who would come to die for the sins of the world, the very Son
of God, was to be from Abraham's physical descendants. Faith was
manifested by Abraham, and so that faith, was accounted to him as
righteousness. In other words, he was forgiven of sins,
justified, and declared as only righteous, before God, by FAITH.
He was not forgiven of sins by keeping some law a thousand times,
and so earning the right to be forgiven. It was not through some
work of law keeping, but through FAITH in what God had promise,
that Abraham was justified.
All of this Paul says was not written down just for the sake
of Abraham, but especially for those who would come after
Abraham, who could also be justified through faith. Through
having faith in God who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
Having faith that Jesus was determined from the beginning to be
delivered up in sacrifice for our sins, and was raised from the
dead, for our forgiveness of sins, or justification (verses
The last verses above of this chapter four, is Paul's
nut-shell of all the truth of that which he has been discussing,
which has been justification by grace through faith, in the
promise of God that the Messiah Jesus would come to die for the
sins of ALL mankind. That He would take OUR sins upon Himself.
The judge's son would take our penalty for breaking all those
laws of not stopping at the red lights. So having FAITH in that
plan of the judge and of his son, we could then be shown grace,
be forgiven, not have to pay the penalty for law breaking.
"Therefore," says Paul, "Being justified by FAITH, we have
peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
What peace it is. We do not have to try and mark up for
ourselves a thousand "good deeds of law" to erase one sin.
Anything along that line for justification with God, would surely
be a yoke of a burden that would be unbearable. But we stand in
God's grace, and we rejoice in the hope of the promise of
wonderful glory that shall yet be ours. And because of the glory
we shall obtain, we can endure and even have some good feelings
about tribulations we often go through in this life time. We also
know that tribulations - trials, tests, and troubles, can work
godly endurance in us. We move through one of them and we come
out the other side a stronger Christian, for we have learnt to
walk with God and serve Him, even when things in life are hard
and difficult. Endurance through trials gives us experience, we
learn lessons, we learn how to manage situations, where to be
wise, what to do or say the correct thing, where we have made
wrong choices, so not to repeat them. We then can have full
assurance of the expected hope, and not a "hope" as if "a maybe"
- but it is an assured hope based on facts that our faith
is founded upon. The fact that we do have God's love in our
heart, we have His Spirit, and we KNOW that we were doomed in our
sins, we had no strength on our own, no amount of law keeping
could erase our sins. But Jesus Christ did come as appointed in
God's time, to die for sinners.
Now and again Paul says, a man may die for another fellow he
considers a "good" or "righteous" person. Look at all the police
officers and fire-fighters, who put their lives on the line each
day, to perhaps save the life of someone they would probably
consider an upright, good person of our land. But God showed love
towards us in sending His Son (and remember the Son had just as
much love, in being willing to come) to DIE for us, while we were
great SINNERS! It was like a police-person willing to die for a
bunch of foul murderers in some maximin prison somewhere.
We are then justified or forgiven of past sins through the
blood of Jesus, and we shall also be saved from the wrath to come
(upon unrepentant sinners) through this same Jesus. What does
Paul mean? He goes on to explain, with the connecting word
"For" - "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled
(justified, forgiven) to God by the DEATH of His Son, much more
being reconciled, we shall be saved by HIS LIFE!" (verses 1-10).
Many do not understand ALL the saving power in Jesus. They
can understand up to His death and His sacrifice on the cross,
His shed blood, but they are lost when it comes to understanding
Paul's statement, "we shall be saved by His LIFE." They know
of His death for sins, but they do not know of His LIFE for sins,
or what being saved by His life means.
Paul explains it all, and so do other apostles in their
writings of what we call the New Testament. As you read the whole
New Testament the truth becomes plain. I will try to explain it
in relatively few words.
You come to realize through the mirror of God's word and His
law, that you are a sinner, you have come under the death penalty
for being a sinner. No amount of law observing can forgive you of
all the sins you have committed. You see that God sent His Son to
live in the flesh, and to take all the sins you have done upon
himself. You realize Jesus died and had His blood shed on the
cross, to pay the death penalty for your sins. You have faith in
that sacrifice of Christ. You have repented of being a sinner.
God accepts your repentance and faith. He shows you grace through
Jesus' death on the cross. You have now been forgiven of sins and
justified or made righteous before the Father.
Faith and grace does not abolish the law. You now go forth
as being righteous, as sinless, but sooner or later through the
weakness of the flesh, you again sin. What can you do? Has the
Father provided a way for you to be forgiven or justified from
the sins you now find that you sometimes do as a Christian? Yes
Jesus was raised from the dead. He ascended to the right
hand of the Father in heaven. He now has the office of High
Priest. He is there in heaven interceding on our behalf. He knows
what it is like to be human, He knows the things that can trip us
up, and make us sin, He had and experienced all these things, yet
He remained sinless. He can then be a faithful interceding High
Priest on our behalf.
We come in humble heartedness to confess our sins before the
Father, as we sin during our walk as a Christian. Jesus pleads
our case for us before the Father. The Father sees our attitude
of wanting to serve Him and live His way. He accepts Christ's
work as High Priest, and applies more of Jesus' shed blood to our
new sins. We again have grace shown to us, we are again forgiven
or justified. This is the way it is until our physical death.
So Jesus being raised from the dead was ABSOLUTELY
necessary. We NEED His LIFE as High Priest, interceding for us.
Without this part of the salvation plan, we could not be fully
and finally saved into God's Kingdom. See again 1 Corinthians 15
for Paul's powerful and dogmatic statements that if Jesus had NOT
been raised from the dead we would be in our sins, we would have
NO hope of eternal life.
The LIFE of Christ is just as important to our salvation as
His death. It is a TWO PART salvation, the DEATH and the LIFE of
Jesus. One part WITHOUT the other cannot bring salvation to any
person who has ever lived.
Grace through Christ, His death and life, and our faith in
that grace of God as applied to our sins as we live through our
Christian walk, is how we are saved by grace through faith, as
Paul put it in Ephesians 2:8, and it is NOT through earning it by
works, doing more good works than bad works, or some other ideas
of "works" somehow being able to abolish our sins. No, we are
reconciled to God by the death of Christ and we shall have our
sins we commit after that reconciliation, abolished by the life
of Jesus as our High Priest, interceding and pleading for us, and
more of His shed blood covering our sins.
Probably the key section of Scripture to go with this one
here in Romans is 1 John 1:6-2:6.
Put the two together and you have the truth as to HOW and
WHY both the DEATH and the LIFE of Jesus is absolutely necessary
for our salvation and inheritance into the Kingdom of God.
Knowing all this truth Paul said, did bring joy in God,
through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have this at-one-ment
Next, Paul shows the greater abundance of grace over sin and
works. Sin entered the world through one man - Adam, and since
that time, every single person had sinned (of course Christ is
the exception, but Paul knows he need not even mention that, for
it was known by all his readers). He shows that the nature of sin
and hence a law (remember he had said that where there is no law
there is no sin or transgression - chap.4:15) did exist before
the Old Covenant law was given to Israel under Moses. Sin
was in the world, and there must have been a law for he states
sin is not counted when there is no law. Death he says, did
reign from Adam to Moses, and it is a simple matter to put 1 John
3:4 together with Romans 6:23 and these verses here, to
understand that God's law was from the beginning.
Then he says, the grace of God is much greater than the
offense. If sin was great because all have sinned, then grace is
even greater. Sin came in by one man, and grace came in by one
man - Jesus the Christ. Sin can only bring judgement and
condemnation, but the FREE gift of grace brings justification or
forgiveness of sins. It is only common sense then that grace is
far GREATER than sins. And that grace was manifested by one
man - Jesus.
Sin was by one man, the righteousness of one other man, He
who overcame sin in the flesh, never sinned - Christ, brings
justification. It is through a person, not through works of laws,
that justification from sins can be given to mankind. Being made
righteous, declared as if never having sinned, is through a
PERSON not through some other way invented by the minds of men.
Paul says, that the law of the Old Covenant came into being
in part to show the magnification of offence and sin, but even
though it was magnified by that law of the Old Covenant, grace
still did much more abound. Obviously that which can abolish sins
is greater than that which brings sin, if it was not, then sins
Sin did reign in one respect for a while, but grace
overpowered sin and it has come to reign through righteousness
(and that was the righteous perfect life of Jesus) unto eternal
life, all by the life and the death, and the life again of Jesus
Christ our Lord (verses 12-21).
Paul anticipated the argument - "Well okay then, let's do
more sins so grace will be extolled and can abound even more in
To the apostle, such a thought was abhorrent.
TO BE CONTINUED