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Romans 1-2

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Pray

Heavenly Father, You are the God who made me, and You deserve my worship and obedience. Yet too often, I make You out to be less than You are, and I put my trust in created things rather than You. This is idolatry. Forgive me, oh God. Help me see You rightly, in both your holiness and your grace through the gospel. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Read & Learn

Read Romans 1-2

Romans 1:1–17 Paul is writing to Christians in Rome sometime around 57 AD. Paul is an apostle, given authority by God to announce the gospel and start churches. But he is also a servant of Jesus Christ.

The most immediate occasion for the letter is that Paul is on his way to Rome, in the hopes that he might minister among them. But he also hopes for their support in his eventual ministry to other unreached places (15:23–24). However, before they can partner together in this work, Paul wants to make sure they’re on the same page regarding “the gospel, the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (1:16). This is what he spends the rest of the letter unpacking.

Romans 1:18–32 The fundamental problem humanity faces is the coming wrath of God against sinful man. Paul offers two reasons why God’s wrath is justly earned by sinful people. First, sinful people all suppress the truth of God (1:18–20). Though God has revealed Himself in His created world, people continue to live as if He doesn’t exist. Every sin exists in the face of overwhelming evidence of God’s eternal power and divine nature.

Second, the wrath of God is just because of sinful man’s idolatry (1:21–23). Because we are made in God’s image, we cannot help but worship someone or something. When we choose not to worship the Creator, we inevitably worship created things: false gods, people, ideas, stuff, feelings. Idolatry is the tragic exchange (1:23) of the glory of God for something far less.

As a result of these two sins—suppressing the truth and idolatry—God has revealed His wrath against mankind in our present day, giving sinners over to their sin. The same world is under God’s present wrath, a fact evidenced by the rampant sinfulness of our day.

Clearly, things in first-century Rome weren’t all that different. Paul highlights sexual immorality in 1:26–27 since the idolatry of the first-century people was uniquely pictured there. That said, God’s judgment is not limited to sexual sin. In fact, according to Romans 1:29–31, it reaches into every area of life that’s closed off from the redeeming work of God—from our relationships, to our words, to our hearts, to our actions. Rebellion against God characterizes all people apart from Christ.

What’s perhaps most unexpected in this first chapter of Romans is just how unremarkable some of the sins are that Paul lists in Romans 1: envy, greed, deceit, strife, gossip, disobeying parents, boasting. Do we really think of these sins as “evil,” warranting the righteous wrath of God? Yet the next verse says these things deserve death! God’s righteous requirements are far more exacting than we often realize. So here’s the question: is there anything in this list that you see as acceptable because our culture says it is?

Romans 2 Paul now turns from the unbelieving Gentile world to the Jewish world. Do they fare any better? Not at all, he says. Though the Jews received God’s law, they too are under God’s judgment because of their failure to obey. We see in verses 2:5–11 that God will not play favorites when it comes to sin. The Jewish people do not receive an exemption. When Judgment Day comes, Paul says, God will judge “each person according to what he has done” (2:5). How we live in this world, whether in obedience or disobedience, will reveal what kind of people we truly are. Jewish people had often judged the unbelieving world for their sin, but Paul pointed out their many failures to keep God’s law themselves (2:17–24). Rather than obeying all of the Law, the Jewish people have relied on outward markers of religion like circumcision, the observance calendar feasts, and abstaining from certain foods. And yet, Paul is clear that such markers cannot bring salvation to anyone, not even Israel (2:25–29).


HOW TO HELP

See the helpful resource below for those struggling with same-sex attraction or for churches wishing to minister lovingly and wisely.

Same-Sex Attraction Resources


In short, the first two chapters of Romans makes two simple, yet connected points: Gentiles have rejected the true God, and Israel has always failed to keep God’s law. This bad news has resulted in God’s righteous wrath. However, in Romans 3 and 4, Paul has some good news to announce to both Jews and Gentiles.

Watch

Have you thought about what an appropriate Christian response is to homosexuality? If not, you might want to watch the short trailer and interview for the book Is God Anti-Gay?

  • Sam Allbery - Is God Anti-Gay Trailer

    © 2016 The Good Book Company Ltd. http://www.thegoodbook.com. Used by permission.


  • Sam Allbery - Interview

    © 2016 The Good Book Company Ltd. http://www.thegoodbook.com. Used by permission.


Daily Verse for Meditation

Romans 1:16-17

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.

Reflect & Change
  1. Do you really believe the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who will believe? For all kinds of people? For bad people as well as “good” people?
  2. As people made in God’s image, we are intended to find satisfaction in our Creator. Yet too often, we look for ultimate satisfaction in created things rather than in the Creator. The Bible condemns this as idolatry, and we should root out idolatry in our hearts.
  3. Is there anything in Romans 1:29–31 that you wrongly consider acceptable even though according to God’s Word it is wrong? As you continue to read the New Testament, take note of where God’s Word confronts values that are culturally accepted and celebrated.
Go & Do

Choose one of the following:

  • Take time this week to journal and reflect on your own sin before God.
  • Think through the various spheres of your life (relationships, work, church, etc.) and ask God to reveal pride, selfishness, and idolatry. Talk to a trusted Christian friend about your reflections, and then talk about the difference the gospel makes.

Choose one of the following:

  • The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. Who are the people you’ve begun to doubt are “save-able”? Pray that God might be so gracious as to use you to bring the gospel to this person.
  • Pray God will raise up workers to go to the unreached people group you are praying for and that many will hear the gospel and believe.
Discipleship Activities
  • Evaluate your church’s current practices for outreach and discipleship, and then discuss your evaluations with your accountability partner. Where would you like to see growth? [Making Disciples]
  • Use the Use of Time assessment below to evaluate your use of time. Make notes to discuss with your accountability partner. [Being a Disciple]
Use of Time Assessment
  1. Think about where you spend your free time. Reading, ministry, outreach, studying, sleeping, shopping, social media, entertainment, recreation,  other reading etc? Make general notes of what you do, when and for how long.