Paid in Full

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26 NKJV

Why do we (the universal modern church version of “we”) extract Romans 3:23 from the full sentence which it is in? Watching it get stripped of the grace and salvation it is meant to express?  Why is the word “propitiation” not used more frequently and more widely understood? It is the appeasement of the debt caused by sin. The satisfaction and “paid in full” required for life. Some definitions say to appease God or earn His favor – no man, except Christ, can do such a thing. My sin debt is paid in full.

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is from the book of Act, chapter 20 verses 1-3 and the book of Romans chapters 1 through 3 (embedded below the image below for your convenience).

Welcome to the book of Romans.  Always a fun book to visit (speaking of Paul using hard and direct language, from yesterday).  I grew up under a very legalistic pastor who somehow turned all the grace that is in this book into the very “CONDEMNATION” that the grace of this book speaks against. 

Legalism is like when the new Christians in Paul’s life try to slip back under the atonement laws (the ones Jesus fulfilled on the cross) and we read about Paul explaining grace and law to them in 1 Corinthians. Well, this issue was all over the world in Paul’s day so he addresses it here in Romans, as well (and it appears in a few other letters from Paul). 
Between Paul’s day and now, humanity wised up and stopped trying to fall under atonement laws (it helps that there is NO temple to sacrifice in) – however, some churches and pastors command the scriptures in a legalistic way that enslaves us to other rules and ‘mans-ordinances’ that we are freed from. Like we read yesterday:

“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” 2 Corinthians 11:3

I remember when we were working on memorizing Romans (in the King James Version) and some people thought it was so complicated. Paul uses very logical arguments to explain – grace and simplicity. We MUST remember that God’s loving and gentle grace and the simplicity of the restoration of humanity to God are the points of this book.  (Read it in a few other version if you need to. Do not let the direct logic and large words prevent you from the gift this book is giving!)

Paul starts with Greetings. “Hello Christians in Rome – I hear you all are doing well. You are all good Christians.” He goes on to say they are so awesome, he wants to come visit! And then like a meme in 2020, things escalate quickly. Suddenly we are speaking of God’s wrath and righteous judgment and all of us having sin and woe!!!! After my first lessons from the book of Romans I completely missed that these are people Paul says are doing good at being Christians! And so you aren’t also lost about what is happening – let’s explain what was understood when the letter was received (but we today do not have in the text.

Culturally, we all know Rome was a sinful, sinful place. Most people think of a version of Rome when they try to imagine Sodom and Gomorrah because our minds make the connection. (But Sodom and Gomorrah were much worse!) Anyway, here are a bunch of believers doing their best in this deeply corrupted place. It is like living in the United States of America today where SO MANY churches have false teachers and corrupted sin has penetrated everywhere! How do we separate, when sin and temptation is literally everywhere?  

Paul writes: The Just Live by Faith. And although we know this, do we know this? This is a letter to a people so much like us. (It is not just the USA that is submerged in Roman like sins. It is the real pandemic overreaching our globe. Sin. And therefore death.)

So as we read and the language become more hard, quickly – think of how the time is short and we must get to the point! Think of all those dying in sin. Who is able to be saved in times like these? Romans is such a valuable book for us – if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.

God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness, God’s Righteous Judgment, The Jews Guilty as the Gentiles (for those who have undue pride, no denomination or people is above another – we all must get humble.)

Paul slips in that Circumcision is of No Avail – we are not under the law of atonement because Jesus doesn’t cover our sins; He washes them away. And as we dig further into Romans we will see they aren’t just washed away, but grace transforms us and we can go and sin no more. We can. Albeit difficult in our world.

But if we do not God will judge and Paul defends God’s Judgment. Because All Have Sinned.  We have the opportunity through God’s loving and tender grace to experience God’s Righteousness Through Faith – and to take part in it in all humility (as today is wrapped up with an explanation of boasting in God vs flesh.

When the Bible, the pastor or the man/woman of God says to examine yourself – the book of Romans is a great place to go to learn how to examine yourself. Paul give us no breaks and starts off here with : you might as well be honest with yourself, because God already knows you.

And no matter when I have read this book, where I was in my walk with the Lord, if I was close to God or far away…. EVERYTIME it is a deep struggle and I do not get through without being called out and required to repent of something. It is the nature of this book: flesh is evil and must die (as in the fleshly desires that rule our lives even on an unconscious level must be killed, destroyed, set apart, and we must become freed from).  The battle in this book is not an enemy attacking the kingdom of God – as we see in so many books.  We do like that spiritual battle over the fleshly one. This battle is against ourselves. It’s against us doing wrong.  It’s against our failures in the face of temptation.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1: 28-32

Paul’s words encompass so much – we are all in here, somewhere. Our problem is we assume Paul means the extremely bad. Like Sexual Immorality would be the husband that cheats and not the one who looks lustfully on a beautifully sculpted body, when no one knows or sees your eyes linger. You know?! Well, at least you did not murder – right? Except for that time you did not speak life over your friends and spoke down to her, and discouraged the Lords visions and dreams for her (because they were not visions or dreams given to you and you did not understand – you are not called to understand, but to walk in the spirit and speak life)! Instead you murdered God’s plans for your friend.

You see – Paul’s list encompasses us all. Even the tiny little sins we overlook, they are included.

Bear in mind that the point of this exercise is NOT to fall under condemnation – but to repent. To be convicted unto righteousness. To turn from our evil ways and get humble before God. 
We talk about the day / month of repentance called for by multiple churches… or how about me and others like me calling for humility and repentance for a couple years!!! It is not new and not ours – it came from the early church, living in a tempting and corrupt society.

Why do you think John the Baptist cried: repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!!? Because it was and STILL IS!

Action: take some time today to take an honest look into the dark corners within yourself. Ask God to reveal any sin. Any practice you need to be freed from. At this point is may not be solely flesh, but possibly a demonic stronghold compelling you into the sin. In the name of Jesus you are freed from it! You are an overcomer. You can walk in the liberty. You can put down cigarettes and never pick them back up. You can put down alcohol, drugs or even that wrong lover and not pick it back up. The yoke of bondage is broken with the anointing, and I pray in agreement with you that as you read this you are anointed into freedom! In the name of Jesus! That God get’s the glory!

We will be in Romans for the rest of this week – learning about the sins we let creep in AND OVERCOMING – sharing in the work of Jesus, himself. To experience grace and love like never before, because each time you take this book seriously and are honest with yourself – God reveals himself new and fresh. It is well worth the work.

Warning – every time you seek God to root out the sin, you will have a temptation to fall under condemnation feeling you are so wrong, God can’t help. DO NOT GIVE UP. Pray for yourself and each other and me as well get through this week and claim the deeper love waiting for us on the other side. Hallelujah  

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: This month we have another powerful verse – this one will give you peace that passes understanding as the world around us spins out of control we know our sovereign God still has a plan! We may not be able to comprehend, but hang in there His way is better!!   

Isaiah 55:8

NIV – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.”
NLT – “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”
ESV – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”
KJV – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.”
NKJV – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.”
NAS – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.”
AMP – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: Acts 20:1-3 and Romans 1-3 NKJV

Acts 20:1-3

20 After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia. Now when he had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece and stayed three months. And when the Jews plotted against him as he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.

Romans 1-3

Greeting

Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who [a]was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;

To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Desire to Visit Rome

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve [b]with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, 10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. 14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. 15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.

The Just Live by Faith

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel [c]of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who [d]suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is [e]manifest [f]in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and [g]Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like [h]corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their [i]women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the [j]men, leaving the natural use of the [k]woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, [l]sexual immorality, wickedness, [m]covetousness, [n]maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 [o]undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, [p]unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

God’s Righteous Judgment

Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your [q]impenitent heart you are [r]treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the [s]Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.

12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

The Jews Guilty as the Gentiles

17 [t]Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest[u] on the law, and make your boast in God, 18 and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. 21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.

Circumcision of No Avail

25 For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your [v]written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose [w]praise is not from men but from God.

God’s Judgment Defended

What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the [x]oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be [y]true but every man a liar. As it is written:

“That You may be justified in Your words,
And may overcome when You are judged.”

But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?

For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? And why not say, “Let us do evil that good may come”?—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their [z]condemnation is just.

All Have Sinned

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.

10 As it is written:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
13 “Their throat is an open [aa]tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 And the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become [ab]guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

God’s Righteousness Through Faith

21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all [ac]and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified [ad]freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a [ae]propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Boasting Excluded

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is [af]justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. 29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

Footnotes

  1. Romans 1:3 came
  2. Romans 1:9 Or in
  3. Romans 1:16 NU omits of Christ
  4. Romans 1:18 hold down
  5. Romans 1:19 evident
  6. Romans 1:19 among
  7. Romans 1:20 divine nature, deity
  8. Romans 1:23 perishable
  9. Romans 1:26 Lit. females
  10. Romans 1:27 Lit. males
  11. Romans 1:27 Lit. female
  12. Romans 1:29 NU omits sexual immorality
  13. Romans 1:29 greed
  14. Romans 1:29 malice
  15. Romans 1:31 without understanding
  16. Romans 1:31 NU omits unforgiving
  17. Romans 2:5 unrepentant
  18. Romans 2:5 storing
  19. Romans 2:9 Gentile
  20. Romans 2:17 NU But if
  21. Romans 2:17 rely
  22. Romans 2:27 Lit. letter
  23. Romans 2:29 A play on words—Jew is literally praise.
  24. Romans 3:2 sayings, Scriptures
  25. Romans 3:4 Found true
  26. Romans 3:8 Lit. judgment
  27. Romans 3:13 grave
  28. Romans 3:19 accountable
  29. Romans 3:22 NU omits and on all
  30. Romans 3:24 without any cost
  31. Romans 3:25 mercy seat
  32. Romans 3:28 declared righteous

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