Summary: Developing Godly Character
Romans 5: Developing Godly Character - February 8, 2008
Turn with me this morning to the book of Romans, chapter 5. Today we want to look at the idea of developing godly character. How do we become the men and women that we were created to be? We have been looking at this letter from the Apostle Paul to Christians living in Rome, the capital city of the Roman Empire. Paul starts out in chapter 5 with these words: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore is a reference to what has come in the previous chapters.
We saw in chapters 1-3 that we were all condemned: the ungodly, moral sinners, and even self-righteous Jews. All men are sinful and as such are under the condemnation of God for their sin. In chapter 4 we saw that even faithful Jews like Abraham and David were condemned for their sin: their works could not save them. But they were saved by faith, apart from works of the law.
Paul says we “have been justified” - this is a one-time act occurring in the past. Justification is not a process we go through, but a declaration: God says we are “not guilty” of our sin, because the penalty for our sin was paid by the wrath of God falling upon Jesus. Just like someone who would pay my credit card bill: Credit from the righteousness of Jesus was applied to my debt. I owe nothing, for Jesus paid everything for me.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Peace is a lack of fighting, a lack of hostility. Why would Paul use the term “peace”? The answer is simple: because God was “at war” with us. His righteous anger was inflammed over our sin. In Psalm 2 we find a description of God’s righteous anger: Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. . . . The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath . . . Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
We sometimes focus so much on the LOVE of God that we forget the WRATH of God. We saw in Romans 1:18 - The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. We understand that we WERE at war; but now that we have received forgiveness, not that we have been justified and declared “not guilty” - we are no longer at war: we have peace with God. Even though we may not FEEL close to God, this peace with God is a fact.
Now jump down to verse 18 with me. We come back in a little to the beginning of the chapter, but right now we want to look at the end of the chapter. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. Paul reminds us that Adam brought sin to all men. In the same way, Jesus provides justification for all who turn to Him in faith. In verse 12 we see Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-- for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.
Death came to all men because of Adam’s sin. Paul says here that we were not given the OT law to make us righteous. We have already seen in the first four chapters that we are not saved by keeping the law. But neither did the law make us sinners. Instead Paul affirms that mankind was sinful before the OT law was given. Verse 14 - Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. Even before the OT law was given through Moses, mankind was guilty of sin. We are not sinners because we sin: instead we sin because we are sinners. Our sinfulness is deep-rooted. It comes from the heart of man. The law was simply given to show us how sinful we are. The law shows us the deep discrepancy between who we are and who we were created to be. The law shows us our sin and places the condemnation of God on us.