09.5 Romans – Benchmarking

In business, we desire to assess our performance.  We measure all kinds of things.  We set goals.  We have KPIs, Key Performance Indicators.  We monitor industry numbers, the economy as a whole, and businesses in our sector.  We look for trends and strengths and areas for improvement.

We measure ourselves by benchmarks.  We grade on a curve.  Am I doing better than others?  Am I ahead in the race or falling behind?

We do the same in our lives.  We compare ourselves to others.  I’m not perfect, but I’m no____ (fill in the blank).  I went to church (check), donated clothes to the needy (check), called on sick friend (check), that’s way more than most people so I’m doing pretty good!

But, God’s law is not on a curve.  It does not care what others are doing.  It is not based on averages or norms.  It is based on the holiness and perfection of God.  God’s law is not just outward signs (check boxes), but it includes everything we think, say and do and also the things we fail to think or fail to say or fail to do.

Benchmarked against others, our sin might appear insignificant, lost in rounding.  But compared to God’s law, all sin is sin against God and sin is death.  In this way, our sin increases as we come closer in our relationship with God.  The prophets fell on their face at the sound of God’s voice struck by their own impurity in relationship to His.  Isaiah said, when he came into the presence of God, I am a man of unclean lips, woe to me.

But God’s grace is manifest in His love for us.  That He sent His one and only son into the world that we might live through Him.

This isn’t something new, but has always been a part of God’s nature.  Some people believe that grace came with Christ, but Christ was and is always a part of God.  Look at the commandments in Exodus 20.  We know verse 5 where God says, in reflection to the command to not have any false gods, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,”

God is a jealous God and we know that sin does have consequences and those consequences hurt others for times to come. And, all too often, we stop there. but did you notice the punctuation at the end of that line?  It is a comma, not a period.  We, too often, forget verse 6 from that same passage in regard to God, “ but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

God’s grace is not new.  God’s grace is far greater than any sin and always has been.  Grace has always been a part of God and always a part of His plan.

My Answers:

10.
a.
Because it points out what is sin. Instead of measuring sin against others or norms, we are forced to measure it against God’s standard of perfection. In contrast to that our sin is much greater.

b.
If I hold to the world standard I do what I can get by with. Holding to God’s standard calls me to integrity and ethics and character and charity.

11.
God prompted me and protected me to remove a sin from my life. By so doing, when it was brought up by another as something that was causing others to sin, it was weeks/months in my past.

12.
The dominion of darkness and the kingdom of the Son. (these would also make awesome names for a band!)
D of D ==> Death, eternal separation from God, lake of fire, gnashing of teeth
K o S ===> peace, love, joy, eternal presence with God, holiness

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09.4 Romans – Sinking Ship

Here is an illustration.  You and your wife are on a very big boat at sea.  The ship-builder equipped the boat with everything you could want or need and visits with you daily to care for your needs.  There is just one rule – don’t drill a hole in the bottom of the boat.  Seems like a pretty reasonable rule, right? Except that is what Adam and Eve did.  Wanting to be “like God” they brought destruction in to His creation.

Ever member of their family since has shared a common fate.  We are all born on a sinking boat with no ability, on our own, to repair it.  Some days we may be in denial that we are sinking, but we are.  Wishing it wasn’t so, lying about it, going along arguing that it is not so are all foolishness when the truth rushes in.

Adam was a man who wanted to be like God

Jesus is God who chose to become a man to save the world.

Jesus offers an alternative.  He has brought us a new boat, one that he navigated through the worst storms without a scratch and one that is perfectly seaworthy to take us home.  He comes to each of us individually, with an offer to accept his hand and come on to his vessel.  But it is up to us to choose.  He paid our ticket, He invited us aboard, we don’t earn our way, but we do have to get on His boat.

My Answers:

8.
separation from God, sin, wickedness, sorted and thrown away into the blazing furnace, wrath and anger, trouble and distress, destruction

9.
a.
Jesus’ death and resurrection as payment for our sin

b.
eternal life, Christ in me, living by faith, ability to approach God with freedom and confidence, heavenly citizenship, equiping, a desire to do what pleases God, glory, holiness, boldness to spread the word.

I pray and strive for it to be evident in all I think, say and do and that His words and spirit flow through me.

09.3 Romans – Perspective

Artists will draw or paint a 3-D perspective on to a 2-D piece of art by using a technique know as a vanishing point.  They pick a point on the drawing and connect the lines to that point creating triangles, wide in the front, but narrowing to a single point in the back.

It has been said that art imitates life and, in this way, that is very true.  We see life and options available to us as a wide path.  We are free to go any direction, do anything, be whomever we want to be. But, the truth is that path narrows to nothingness.  The all things along that path converge to a single point that Adam brought in to the world. Death.

But, Jesus opened a new perspective.  As we first see it as a non-believer it is a single point, a tiny gate, a narrow path.  This point is the choice of faith.  Believe or do not believe.  Love God or hate God.  A single point for a single choice.

However, this choice is the exact opposite of Adam’s choice.  Instead of a path that starts wide and narrows, the path of being a believer is Christ starts narrow and goes eternally wide.  We grow in knowledge and faith.  We grow in holiness.  We grow in love.  We grow in compassion.  Instead of an end, we live for eternity.  Instead of being hemmed in by the walls of this world and this place and this time and this body, we will be set free to live in new bodies in heaven forever.

My Answers:

5.
Both had free will and choice. Both were fully man. Both knew God personally and intimately. Both men brought eternal change to mankind.

Adam was a man who wanted to be like God. Jesus was God who elected to become a man to right the wrongs of the world.

6.
Righteousness, being made right with God. It is the connecting point. Without the bridge or Christ’s death to bring righteousness, we do not have an opportunity to exit the path of sin and death.

7.
We are born into Adams family. We are chosen and elect to become members of Jesus’ family through faith.
I’m united to both

09.2 Romans – Choice

We are fickle about choices.  On one hand, we like alternatives and don’t like being hemmed in.  We like variety.  We like freedom to do what we want.  On the other, we hate the need to make so many decisions.  Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and just want someone else to decide.  Where do you want to go for dinner?  No, where do you want to go?  We fall into ruts for the simple reason of avoiding making a new decision that we might not like the results.

But we sometimes forget that the ability to choose is a gift from God.  God did not have to place the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden.  He could have told Adam and Eve, there is nothing here that will harm you, do as you wish.  This is like the environments we try to create for toddlers, working to remove anything that can cause them harm.

But, instead, God placed the tree in the center of the garden.  Not because He wanted Adam to sin, but because he wanted him to choose to obey.  Without the fruit of the tree, Adam could not choose to love and obey God, he would not have had any other choice.  But God gave Him the gift so that He could participate in true and free love, just as the Trinity is love.

As you go through your day, today, making choices such as choosing what to wear, what to do, where to go, what to say, when to get up, when to lay down, what to eat, who to pay, remember the most important decision of them all.  As Joshua said in Joshua 24:15, “… choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, … as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

My Answers:

3.
Adam, not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or he would die. Sin and death entered the world through him

4.
Born sinners. A lot of people believe that others are basically good, but only God is good and without God we resort to wickedness.