4.5 Romans – Direction not Destination

Picture this, there is a huge sign with an arrow on it by the side of a road pointing north.  I’m driving on the road and see the sign from miles away.  I keep going and finally reach the sign.  As soon as I’m to the north of the sign I pull over and park.

This is what Paul is trying to convey that the Jews were doing.  The law was a sign, given to them to point the way to righteousness.  It was direction not destination.  But as soon as they, in their own self-judgment, could justify that they were on the north side of the sign, they acted like they had arrived.  They may have reached the first hilltop, but the mountain range ahead was something they could not climb on their own.

We shouldn’t bow down and worship the sign.  We shouldn’t stop and take selfies showing we’ve arrived at the sign.  We should pay attention to the direction the sign points.

The signs did not point to how to achieve righteousness and holiness through our own works.  The signs all point to Jesus, the fulfiller of the law.  You have not arrived, unless you are with Him.

My Answers:

11.
The law is not a mountain to climb, it is an example/measure to show how far we are from holiness and to point the way.

12.
a.
No one who knows the law and is truthful can claim they have followed every command in every thought, word and deed both in what they have done and what they have left undone.

b.
It screams for me to lay down any thoughts that I’m earning salvation in any way shape or form.

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4.4 Romans – Fear of God

Should we go running in fear from God?  Should we shake in our boots at the thought of Him?  Should His presence make us tremble?

God is not some character from a horror movie.  He is not a bad guy, jumping out of the darkness to get us.

The opposite is true.  God is love.  God is light, in Him there is no darkness.  He is a good God who saves us.

So why should we then fear God?  I think the answer is in two ways that we can relate to.

One is to think about electricity.  We use electricity every day in many different ways.  Without it, our lives would be extremely different.  But we also recognize the power of electricity and have a rational fear to not go out of bounds with it.  We don’t take metal rods and try to touch overhead power lines.  We don’t stick our fingers in fuse boxes.

God is far more powerful than electricity and the same things apply to our need to obey the laws of God.

Second is to think about our parents.  For many of us growing up, most of the adults who knew us also knew our parents.  While we were tempted to act out, we recognized that we were not only representing ourselves, but we also were reflecting on our parents.  When we lied or cheated or stole, it affected how others in the community thought about our family, not just us.  We lived with a fear of dishonoring our families by giving in to temptations.

Hypocrisy is one of the leading arguments that people give for not attending church.  When we say one thing and do something else, we reflect poorly on what it is to be a Christ follower and dishonor God.

My Answers:

8.
a.
lack righteousness, lack understanding, do not seek God, turn away from God, become worthless, do not do good, to have a throat that is an open grave to a dead heart, a deceitful tongue, poison on lips, mouth full of cursing and bitterness, in a hurry to shed blood, path of background is marked with ruin and misery, do not know the way of peace and do not fear God.

b.
The poison of vipers is on their lips. throats are open graves. We are filled with death and our lips are an means to spread pain and death to others.
What comes out of the mouth shows the character of the heart.

9.
There is no fear of God before their eyes. This is a quote from Psalm 36:1, so true in Old and New

10.
To recognize how my sins and misdeeds dishonor my Father, Brother and Spirit and how they also cause others to turn away from Him and think wrongly of Him

4.3 Romans – My Mom was right!

I tried using the argument with my mom on many occasions that I should be allowed to do something or have something because “everyone else is doing it.”  She would point out to me that just because everyone is doing something doesn’t make it right.

Well, Mom was right.  Just because I sin, you sin and everyone else who has ever lived (except Jesus) has sinned, doesn’t make it right.  It just makes us all sinners.

Our attitude should be to see it through the eyes of our loving Father.  He doesn’t want what is popular for us, He wants what is best.  In this case, everyone’s lives (left to their own desires) leads to jumping off a cliff.  He points to Jesus and the bridge He provided over the chasm of death to eternal life.

You may not have paid attention to your mother when she said it, but please pay attention to your Heavenly Father!

My Answers:

6.
Our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness. e.g., Comparing God to me show just how wonderful he is so by sinning I’m actually helping God and showing His righteousness and mercy. I’m a contrast to God.

7.
Sin is wrong and brings dishonor to us and to God. We should despise sin and study, fast and pray with the power of the Holy Spirit to avoid sin, not to excuse it. The fact that everyone does it does not make it good or right, it just means everyone is a sinner.

4.2 Romans – Advantage of the Bible

We live in the most amazing of times.  I know there are a number of people who remanence about the “good old days”.  This is nothing new.  We saw the Israelites do this after Moses led them out of Egypt.

But there is one clear way that these are the best of days.  No other time in history have more people, tribes, languages and nations had access to the word of God.  Thinking back to the days of Paul, letters had to be written on hides of animals and cost weeks if not months wages to produce and copy.  Messengers were dispatched.  People were gathered for the reading.

Today we can pull up dozens of different versions on our computers and phones.  Bookshelves are filled with bibles.  They are in virtually every hotel room in the Western world.  Large print, pocket size, fully indexed, parallel, all readily available.

Yet how many people have actually read it?  According to a Lifeway poll in 2017 90% of American households have a bible, but only 11% self-reported that they have read it at any point in their lives.  We hear bits and pieces in church and hang verses on our walls, but would our habits show that we value the complete word of God?

When we teach kids we have learned it is far better to point them in the direction of what to do instead of simply pointing out what they are doing incorrectly.  Instead of saying, don’t do that, we say, let’s do this instead.  Maybe we need to do a bit of parenting and teaching in our own lives.  Instead of sinning, maybe we should pull the bible off the bookshelf and open it up and read what God has to say in the entire story.

My Answers:

3.
a.
They were God’s chosen people, they were the receivers of the law and the temple and had the only means of forgiveness. They deserved it by ancestry. I have had many advantages of location of birth, family, the investment of church family, friends.

b.
They had something, handed down, to study and learn and see the attributes and the plan of God. The Word of God is the greatest gift given to me and to mankind. Without it we would rely only on the natural signs of God and not have the deep personal relationship that we otherwise can form.

4.
Abrahamic covenent (bless those…), The promised land and God’s promise to bless them in the land (if they keep His commands), Israel would never be rejected (there would always be a remnant).
The sins and unfaithfulness of some (e.g., those who killed Jesus for example) do not nullify God’s faithfulness and condemn all the people.

5.
My nature, my desire, is to attract temptation and evil.  I am, by nature, sinful and unclean.

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.