June 21— Romans 5 — Believers’ Benefits. This chapter is loaded with the benefits gained by those who put their trust in Christ. When we are “justified by faith, we have peace” (v. 1). Justification and peace are benefits of faith. We are given access “into this grace … and we rejoice in hope” (v. 2). “God’s love has been poured into our hearts,” as has the Holy Spirit (v. 5). We have been “saved … from the wrath of God” (v. 9). We not only rejoice in hope (v. 2) but “we also rejoice in God” (v. 11). The “free gift of righteousness” (v. 17, also v. 19) is another benefit. Finally, eternal life is our ultimate benefit (v. 21). Ten benefits of belief are mentioned in this one chapter. What gifts! Whereas our surrounding world often sees us as people who have given up so much of what they enjoy, we can see ourselves as having gained so much more.
June 22 — Romans 6 — Considered Obedience. There are so many vital tidbits of teaching in this chapter! One that struck me is that we are to “consider yourselves dead to sin” (v. 11). This recognizes that the presence of our sinful nature remains even after we have become Christians. The temptation to sin is still there. We must “consider,” or treat it as being dead in our lives, which takes effort involving our mind and attitude. Later in this letter, Paul urges believers to “put to death the deeds of the body” (8:13), which is an effort involving our will. On the positive side, we are challenged here to “become obedient from the heart” (v. 17). This is an effort that involves deep integrity. We can be obedient for a lot of superficial reasons like duty, convenience, bargaining, tradition, visibility, peer pressure, etc. Let us also be striving to obey “from the heart,” doing it because we genuinely want to obey.
June 23 — Romans 7 — Which Law? Two kinds of laws are contrasted in this chapter, one positive and one negative. God gave His good law primarily through Moses, amplifying and developing it through the Old Testament prophets. It is referred to here as “the law” (v. 1), “the written code” (v. 6), “the commandment” (v. 9), and “the law of God” (v. 22). This “spiritual” law (v. 14) is “holy … righteous and good” (v. 12). It is refined and expanded in the New Testament to encompass all God wants from us believers and is called in the next chapter, “the law of the Spirit of life” (8:1). On the other side is the negative “law of sin” (vv. 23, 25), our sinful nature that fights against what God wants us to do and what we believers really want to do. It is not a hopeless dilemma, however, because Jesus has provided deliverance for us (vv. 24-25) in this life, which will be fully realized in heaven. Rejoice in the freedom that Christ has provided for you to be able to say “No!” to sin in order to please Him.
June 24 — Romans 8 — Waiting. No one likes to wait. When we do, it is always in anticipation of something that is to come, like waiting for the green traffic light, for daylight when you cannot sleep, for the healing of a pulled muscle, or for your next birthday (if you are young!), etc. In this chapter, Paul talks about waiting for the climax of history, which involves the Second Coming of Christ and the collection of all believers to Him for eternity. Even “creation waits” for it (v. 19). We believers also wait for it—for our “adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (v. 23). But what should be our attitude as we wait? Frustrated? No, “we wait for it with patience” (v. 25). We can be patient because we know for sure that it will happen. We can also be patient because we are privileged to enjoy the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit during the waiting period, as “the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (v. 16).
June 25 — Romans 9 — Justice. This is a difficult chapter. It considers the struggle we have in understanding how God can be just in choosing some for salvation and not others. Is the choice arbitrary? Even among His chosen people, He says, “not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel” (v. 6). It doesn’t depend on being physically related “children of the flesh” but on being “children of the promise” (v. 8). As Paul makes clear with the example of the brothers Jacob and Esau (v. 12), God’s choice is not based on works (v. 11). Upon what, then, is it based? The key seems to be given in contrasting how some Gentiles could be included in God’s choice and some Israelites excluded. Gentiles who were chosen pursued righteousness by faith (v. 30) while some Jews missed out because they pursued it through works (v. 32). We are saved through faith, which seems to me to be the basis for God’s choosing.