Expounding the Faith
Introduction: Can you remember a time when someone you loved was unhappy with you? What if your spouse is unhappy with you? It doesn't feel good, does it? What about the time when your boss was unhappy with you? That caused worry because your boss could create real problems. God is somewhat like our boss and our spouse wrapped up together. God should be the last person that we want to have unhappy with us. However, since He is a perfect God and we are sinful humans with have a serious problem. This week we learn about how Jesus' perfect life and death for our sins reconciled us to God. We also learn something new about the nature of sin. Let's jump right into our study of Romans and learn more!
- Read Romans 5:1. What brings us peace with God? (Faith in Jesus justifies us.)
- Imagine that your spouse is very angry with you. Your response is that "Harry's wife" or "Mary's husband" is a good spouse and that therefore your spouse should stop being angry with you. Do you think that would work? (Of course not! That would make it worse because the "good spouse" would make you look even worse.)
- Why doesn't it work that way with Jesus? The fact that He lived a perfect life should make my life look even worse!
- Read Romans 5:2. This text explains why Jesus' perfect life does not make things worse for us. What does it suggest? (Jesus gives us access to grace. I think grace is a cross between being cheerful and charity. We are given a gift, a gift of entering the cheerful presence of God. Our God who should be unhappy with us because of our sin, is not because Jesus has covered our sin.)
- Notice the last part of Romans 5:2. Why are we happy? (We rejoice because now we have the hope of living in the glory of God. Living with Him in heaven and the earth made new. When our spouse or our boss is unhappy with us, it affects our attitude. Because Jesus has changed our situation we should feel joy because we have been given the hope of a great future.)
- Read Romans 5:3-5. Wait a minute. We were doing so well. I was as happy as I could be. God was happy with me. And, I did not have to work for that happiness! Now, Paul talks to me about some unpleasant stuff. Why does Paul talk about suffering?
- When you were reading all my "happy talk" you might have groaned and said, "Be serious!" Have you ever had someone say that your faith is not "very realistic?" Not "practical?" (Paul realizes that all of this "happy talk" bumps into the reality of life. Sometimes we are not rejoicing and sometimes we are not very happy. Nasty things happen in life. Paul gives us the answer to how to rejoice in unhappy times.)
- What is the answer to unhappy times? (That difficult times make us better. They give us character and hope.)
- Why does character give us hope? (Have you ever seen an immature person? They have a hard time dealing with life. I think Paul is saying that maturity of character helps us to hold on to hope. Suffering leads to perseverance which develops character which leads to hope.)
- What does the Holy Spirit have to do with hope? (Suffering is not pleasant. We want it to end. The Holy Spirit gives us hope that God loves us. We hope for God to rescue us here. If we stick with God, He pours His love into our hearts by His Holy Spirit.)
- Read Romans 5:6-8. How common is it for someone to die for someone else?
- If you were faced with such a decision, what factors would you weigh? (Logically, you would ask yourself whose life is more important. If someone was lazy and evil, it would not cross my mind to give up my life for that person.)
- Why does Paul talk about the rare instance in which someone would die for a righteous person? (Jesus' death for us makes no logical sense. God illogically died for a bunch of sinners. This proves God's gift was not powered by reason, but by love.)
- Read Romans 5:9-11. Should we be worried about God's wrath - His unhappiness with us?
- What logical argument does Paul construct to teach us that we should not be worried? (Paul just told us it made no logical sense for God to die for a bunch of sinners. However, if our God was willing to do that, imagine how much more confident we can be when Jesus made us acceptable to God. If God loved us enough to save us when we were bad, imagine how He will treat us when we look like Jesus! Praise God!)
- The One Man Solution
- Read Romans 5:12-14. Who is the "one man?" (Paul must be talking about Adam.)
- How responsible am I for the sins of Adam?
- Read Deuteronomy 24:16. God tells me that I should not die for the sins of another. So, what is Paul saying? (Although I did not help Adam to sin, the text suggests that humans independently sinned - "all sinned.")
- What does Paul mean when he says that "sin is not taken into account when there is no law?"
- If it was not sinful to kill before the giving of the Ten Commandments, how do we explain Cain's punishment? See Genesis 4:1-14. (If you consider the story carefully, Genesis 4:6-7 is a command from God to Cain. Cain must master his anger by doing what is right.)
- If sin was not taken into account, why did death reign on earth before the giving of the Ten Commandments? (Paul teaches us that sin is not tightly tied to the law. Humans sinned before they had the Ten Commandments written down.)
- What about this "accounting?" "Sin was not taken into account when there is no law?" Isn't death the accounting for sin? (Paul seems to say there are two kinds of sin. The first sin is breaking one of the Ten Commandments or any other specific command of God. If you have no specific commands, then you cannot break one.)
- Read Romans 2:14-15. What kind of law and what kind of sin is described here? (This is the second kind of sin. This involves things that we naturally know are sinful. Paul wants us to know that sin is a pervasive problem for humans. A problem which is not tightly tied to the Ten Commandments.)
- Why do you think Paul separates sin and death from the law?(Paul is making it harder for anyone to claim that they are righteous because of keeping the law. If you are to be perfect on your own, you not only have to worry about the Ten Commandments, you have to worry about things which are naturally wrong. Jesus expands the sin concept ( Matthew 5:28) to situations where we have not done anything, but have improper thoughts! Thus, Jesus is the only answer to our sin.)
- Read Romans 5:15-17. Who is the "one man" antidote to sin? (Jesus.)
- Why is Jesus' gift more powerful than Adam's sin? (Jesus mopped up a lot more sin than just Adam's sin. Humans were sinful before the law was given. After the law was given, they had even less excuse for sin because God's will was clearly stated. Jesus took care of all sin - that practiced before the law and that which resulted from the application of the law.)
- Read Romans 5:18-19. Does this mean that we are all automatically saved? Is it the opposite of all humans being automatically lost because of the sin of Adam? (If we look back at Romans 5:15 we are told that the "gift is not like the trespass." Salvation is a gift - and that suggests that it must be received. Just like Deuteronomy 24:16 tells us that we do not die unless we embrace the sin of Adam, so we do not have eternal life unless we embrace the gift of Jesus' perfect life and sacrificial death on our behalf.)
- Read Romans 5:20-21. God wants sin to increase? How do we explain adding the law? (God wanted us to be more aware of His rules for living. He wanted us to be more aware of the nature of sin. At the same time God increased grace to cover all of our sins.)
- Does this suggest that the law is nullified? That God does not care about the law? (The fact that Jesus died to satisfy the demands of the law shows its importance. If God was going to nullify the law, He would have done it before He suffered a painful death!)
- Friend, God's grace is the greatest gift you will ever be given! Will you, right now, accept the gift? Will you repent of your sins and ask God to cover them with the blood of Jesus?
- Next week: Victory Over Sin.