this is becoming the most enjoyable "work" i've ever done
here is our third study which we will do on Feb 2nd
The Letter to the Romans Bible Study #3
Words - Righteous, Righteousness
Romans 1:18-21 The Night, Its Cause
We come to a major turn in the letter. The good news is we are saved. The righteousness that is available from God by faith is the only thing that can save us from the wrath of God. The good news is made even more amazing when we see that, that wrath was deserved. (Putting diamonds in a case with a bright light shining on them and laying them on a totally black background is the best way to bring out their beauty.) This is what Paul is about to do with the gospel. He is going to display it against the blackness of the ungodliness and unrighteousness of mankind.
“Only the prisoner shall be free, only the poor shall be rich, only the weak strong, only the humble exalted, only the empty filled, only nothing shall be something” Martin Luther.
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
This time spent studying verses on sin and unrighteousness, will bear good fruit in our lives. First, in order to find a cure for the disease you need to know everything you can about its root and cause. Second, a deeper understanding of human nature, both ours and others will make us more able to resist our own temptations and more able to bless, counsel, and pray for others. Lastly, knowing the nature of sin and wrath will cause you to cherish the gospel. The little word, “For” starts us off here, it connects us back to the gospel of verses 16,17. We can be righteous by faith, and that is a good thing because, “the wrath of God is revealed …against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.” Ungodliness is used here for sins that are specifically against the first 4 commandments, against God. Unrighteousness is used for breaking the last 6 commandments against ‘man.’
Our two words to study in depth are righteous and righteousness. Righteousness is righteous acts. So what is righteous? The simple definition is “conformity to God’s standard of right and wrong.“ Included in it is a sense of being justified in God’s eyes, made right, at peace with God.
The path to righteousness is shown in Isaiah 6:1-12
In 6:1-4 Isaiah meets God
In 6:5 Isaiah sees his true self
In 6:6,7 He finds cleansing from God
In 6:8-12 He is commissioned and empowered to God’s service
The word is used in 3 ways in scripture, only one is what Paul is talking about here in Romans. That one is “absolutely righteous.” This refers only to God and not to any man, aside from Jesus. Two other ways righteous is used are: 1) ‘Relatively righteous‘, so Cornelius and Lot are referred to as righteous, but it is only “compared to” the people surrounding them. 2) ’Self-perceived as righteous’, such as when Jesus answers the Pharisee’s question by saying he did not come to “call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32
Having seen what righteousness is, we need to stop and contemplate how evil, evil is. It is evil enough that a loving God exiles it to an eternal punishment. It is horrible enough that the perfect Son had to go to the cross to atone for it. (discussion)
I want to read Isaiah 42:1-4
1“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold;
My chosen one in whom My soul delights.
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 “He will not cry out or raise His voice,
Nor make His voice heard in the street.
3 “A bruised reed He will not break
And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish;
He will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 “He will not be disheartened or crushed
Until He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.” God’s deep desire for us is to ‘press on’ to know the Lord. He will fan to flame any small burning ember in you. He will not crush, but heal us when we are “a bruised reed.” OK back to the lesson.
“because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Romans 1:19-21
God is manifest in a general way to every human being. Our limitation and His vastness are two truths that every one knows. Our observation of the world, the things we see constantly points out to us our boundaries, our limits, and His everlasting power. God’s creation makes Him to be “clearly seen.” “futile in their speculations” - exalting chance and accidents and man’s wisdom - they elevate themselves and devaluate God. No longer truly observing His power and glory displayed in creation their heart becomes darkened as they try to “see” in this world something that speaks of man’s goodness and rules out the power and glory of God.
For unbelievers, wrath is always mingled with mercy in this age of hope. God warns with His wrath and woo’s with His kindness.
For believers death and futility and suffering and sin are all transformed by faith in Jesus.
This if from John Piper and I could not improve upon it.
Death and Suffering and Sin in the Life of a Believer
And to believers, what is our case? According to Romans 1:17 we have the gift of God's righteousness by faith. God's punishment of us was poured out on Jesus who died in our place (Romans 8:3). Romans 8:1 says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says, "God has not destined us for wrath." What then are our death and our suffering and our sin? Are they still the wrath of God against us? If not what are they?
The answer is that death and suffering and sin are not the wrath and condemnation and punishment of our heavenly Father. Each one is fundamentally altered by the gospel of Christ crucified in our place.
1. Death is a gateway into paradise.
For believers, the sting and victory of death have been removed. "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). For believers, death is not the wrath of God toward them; it is the last gasp of a defeated enemy who unwittingly opens a door to paradise.
2. Futility and suffering are pathways to holiness.
For believers, futility is removed from suffering. For those who love God and are called according to his purpose "all things work together for our good" (Romans 8:28). Punishment is transformed into purification. Destructive forces become disciplinary forces. And the seeming chaos and futility of life's calamities become the severe, but loving, hand of our Father in heaven.
3. The power of sin is replaced with a love of righteousness.
Finally, not only is the sting of death replaced with hope; and the futility of suffering replaced with meaning; but the dominion and degrading power of sin is replaced with a love of righteousness (the point of Romans 6). God does not give us over to a depraved mind, he gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore let us awaken to the truth of Romans 1:18 that the wrath of God is being revealed now in this age against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of man. We can't understand the world or the gospel without that truth. But let us also awaken to the truth that God is revealing something else at the same time. He is revealing the gift of righteousness for all who will believe on Christ. And with that righteousness there is no wrath or condemnation on us any more. For you (whoever you are!), who believe, death becomes a gateway to paradise; suffering becomes a pathway to holiness; and sin becomes a dethroned enemy that we fight by the power of God's Spirit.
So let us flee the wrath of God, and take refuge in the precious power of the gospel of God. Amen.