Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.”
In these two verses, Paul made clear the difference between faith and the law: faith is a matter of believing, while law is a matter of doing. If the promise came to those “who depend on the law,” then faith was emptied of value and the promise had effectively been put out of operation. As soon as a promise was hedged about with conditional elements, it lost its value.
Paul wanted his readers to understand that it couldn’t be both faith and obedience for the law; one canceled out the other. Think about it…what role would there be for faith if the promise were dependent on obedience to law? It would simply rob the promise God made to Abraham of meaning. How so? Well, it would make faith “useless,” and the promise would “count for nothing.”
Ironically, the very thing the Jews were counting on to make them acceptable to God turned out to emphasize their sinfulness. By trying hard to fulfill the demands of the law (and failing), their pious efforts merely turned them into conscious sinners.
The word “transgression” is clarifying. Transgression means the violation of a known law, to over step a clearly defined line. An act can be inherently wrong even if there is no law against it. However, it becomes transgression when a sign goes up saying “Do Not Enter” and then you willfully enter. Jews may have thought they inherited blessing through having the law, but all they inherited was transgression.
The important thing for us to remember here is that we can’t earn our salvation. The law only shows us how far we are from God’s righteousness. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone—nothing else.
I remember there was a time when I thought I could earn God’s favor. I would go about my day and think about all the ways I had not sinned. You won’t believe this…there were times I thought, “I’ve gone a whole week without sinning!” Crazy, right? But that’s how I thought. It led me to think about how good I was. Then, inevitably, I’d sin in an obvious way and I’d be devastated. I’d go weeks thinking how sorry I was; I’d come up with some self-imposed form of penance. Eventually, this led to a feeling of hopelessness. Why? Because I came to the realization that I could never be good enough, so my attitude became “why try”.
One day, God revealed His grace to me in a powerful way. I read John 15:16, “You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you could go and produce fruit…” Those words “I chose you” jumped off the page at me. Why would you choose me? A dumb mechanic; a guy who can’t seem to get it right. Yet, He took pleasure in me and poured out His grace on me, not because of what I did, but because of what He freely did. It was as though He said, “Trust Me Jim, that’s all I want you to do.” It was like a huge burden was lifted off of me. All the rule-keeping I was doing only led to feelings of failure, but now a sense of liberation came over me as I basked in God’s unmerited favor.
How about you? Think back to a time you fully felt the grace of God; His unmerited favor.
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible.