Summary: My delight determines my deeds; My deeds determine my destiny
This morning I need to begin by asking for your forgiveness. As I was preparing the message this week, God brought to mind something that I did several weeks ago that was sinful and for which I needed to ask His forgiveness and for which I also need to do the same with you. That particular week I had my sermon all finished when I began to sense that the message I had developed was just not the message God had for us as a body. But because it was going to be inconvenient for me to take the time to completely redo that message and there were some things that I wanted to have time for that week, I settled for just making a few minor tweaks.
So not surprisingly, when I shared that message with all of you, I knew that it was not the message that God had for all of us that morning and I just didn’t sense that God was speaking through me the way I normally do. It’s not that anything I taught that morning was unbiblical or wrong, it’s just that I allowed what was important to me to get in the way of what was important to God. Now because of God’s grace and mercy, perhaps you didn’t notice anything that morning. It is even possible that God took what was an inadequate offering on my part and actually used it in your lives in some way. But that does not in any way excuse the fact that I allowed my delight in something other than God Himself to cause me to engage in some deeds that I shouldn’t have. So this morning, I ask you to forgive me.
As we examine this morning’s passage, I think you’re going to see clearly how God used this passage in my life this week to reveal my sin. And my prayer is that he’ll also use it in your life to show you the importance of delighting in Him above all else.
We’re going to deal with a pretty difficult section of Scripture this morning – one that could easily lead us to draw some wrong conclusions if we don’t keep this passage in its proper context. So let’s take a moment to step back and look at the big picture, which we could diagram like this:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
(Romans 1:16-17 ESV)
Romans 1:18 – 3:20
Why man needs the gospel
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:
(Romans 3:21-22 ESV)
In verses 16 and 7 of Romans 1, Paul gave us the main theme for his entire letter. There he proclaimed that the only way that man can achieve righteousness before God is through the gospel, which is received into our lives through faith in Jesus alone.
But Paul correctly anticipates that there were going to be those who would respond by thinking that while it was great that the gospel was available for everyone else, they didn’t really need it themselves. So, beginning in verse 18, Paul writes what we might accurately call a “big parenthesis” where he describes in detail why every man’s righteousness is inadequate and why every person therefore needs the righteousness of God which comes only through the gospel.