BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 12, Day 4: Romans 7:14-20

Summary of passage:  Sin makes man do what he does not what to do–evil things.

Questions:

8 )  Paul is unspiritual because he is corrupted by sin.  All believers have the seeds of rebellion in their hearts.  The law is holy because it has its origin in God.

9)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Sin is man’s nature and the struggle to overcome that is only won through Jesus’s death and the Holy Spirit within fighting daily.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Lose my temper too much.  Help others more.

Conclusions:  Again, I feel like so much is here and BSF does a poor job of pulling it out with these personal questions.

End Notes:  “I am” suggests Paul is describing the personal Christian experience here (see YESTERDAY for in depth on this analysis).

“Unspiritual” is usually translated as carnal.   Carnal uses the ancient Greek word sarkikos, which means, “characterized by the flesh.” In this context it speaks of the person who can and should do differently but does not. Paul sees this carnality in himself, and knows that the law, though it is spiritual, has no answer for his carnal nature.

“Sold as a slave to sin.”  Very, very strong description that many refuse to accept it as descriptive of a Christian.  However, it may graphically point out the failure even of Christians to meet the radical, ethical, and moral demands of the gospel.  It also shows the persistent nature of sin.

Paul is in bondage under sin and the law can’t help him.  The law can only help if he is innocent, but Paul knows that he’s guilty and that the law argues against him, not for him.

Paul is not saying how we hold no responsibility and sin is to blame for our actions.  No.  He’s merely pointing out how great control sin has over our lives.

You can be carnal and still be a Christian.  It’s the awareness of our fallen nature, our acknowledgment and hatred of it in ourselves, which leads to praising and loving God.

Paul describes in verses 15-19 his feeling of helplessness.  He wants to do what is right and indeed knows what is right but under his own power he cannot.  The law gives us no power to keep them; it merely tells us what is right and wrong.

This paradox of recognizing we are sinners, owning our sin, and repenting of it comes from the law and not from our Christian nature.

What is the law anyways?  To most of Paul’s audience, the word law stands for the huge collection of rules and rituals detailed in the Old Testament.  Whenever he starts talking about “the new covenant” or “freedom in Christ”, his Jewish listeners want to know what he things about Moses’ law.  Does God still require obedience?  That’s what all of chapter 7 discusses.

Thanks to his years as a Pharisee, Paul knows Moses’ law well. This chapter, the most personal and autobiographical in Romans, reveals Paul’s thoughts on this issue.

When the Law is Helpful:  Paul never recommends discarding the law.  He sees it reveals a basic code of morality, an expression of behavior that pleases God.  The law is good for one thing:  exposing sin.  Rules such as the Ten Commandments are helpful, healthful, and good.

When the Law is Helpless:  The law has one major problem:  After proving how bad you are, it doesn’t make you any better.  Paul’s conscience is very sensitive from his legalism days.  This makes him feel guilty.  This law that shows us our failures cannot provide the power to overcome them.  The law or any set of rules leads to death.

Romans 7 shows the struggle when an imperfect person commits himself to a perfect God.  How can I ever get rid of my nagging sins?  The invisible sins (lust, anger, coveting) can be just as toxic as the outward sins (stealing, adultery, murder).  In the face of God’s standards, all of us feel helpless and that is precisely Paul’s point and confession.  No set of rules can break the terrible cycle of guilt and failure.  We need outside help and Chapter 8 brings it!  Hint:  The Holy Spirit!

We will be spending 3 weeks studying Chapter 8–hope!

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 10, Day 2: Romans 6:1-4

Summary of passage:  Paul pauses to answer any questions and to clarify:  No!  We don’t go on sinning just because grace is bigger than sin! When we’re baptized, we’re baptized into Christ and his life and death.

Questions:

3)  Paul had just explained that God’s grace is bigger than our sins and no matter how great our sins, God’s grace and Jesus’s death and resurrection are greater to justify us all.  He wants to clarify to all that continuing to choose sin because you know God will forgive you is a sin!

4)  God is not happy.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Honestly, this thought has never occurred to me.  I’ve never read Romans before nor have I heard a lecture on this topic.  Hence, I’ve never sinned with that thought ever.  Again, honestly, they don’t really strengthen me (this idea).  I know sin is evil and against God so I in my human fallacy choose God instead.

Conclusions:  Questions were great up until question number 5 where it got personal and didn’t apply to me (and I’m sure to many of you).  Who purposely sins?  As Paul explains, then they are not right with God when they do.

End Notes:  In verses 3:21-5:21 Paul explains how God has provided for our redemption and justification.  He next explains the doctrine of sanctification–the process by which believers grow to maturity in Christ and are made holy.  He treats the subject in 3 parts:  1) freedom from sin’s tyranny (ch 6)  2)  freedom from the law’s condemnation (ch 7)  3)  life in the power of the Holy Spirit (ch 8)  This will be Chapters 6:1-8:39

Throughout history, you’d be surprised who twisted these verses (and Paul’s words) to justify their wrong-doings (this is why Paul is harping on this topic).  The Russian, self-proclaimed monk Rasputin for one said “I’ll sin more to earn more forgiveness.”  If you don’t know much about Rasputin, he’s a fascinating character (albeit evil one) in history who led a bizarre life of immorality, but heavily influenced the last Imperial family of Russia.  In essence, he was a very good con man, which was unfortunate for the Royals and some scholars even say he contributed to their downfall.

Paul often used this writing technique:  He pauses in the middle of an argument to answer objections or questions that may be occurring to the reader.

Paul’s concern here is that people will misuse God’s grace and use God’s forgiveness of their sins as an excuse to continue sinning (like Rasputin did).  It’s God’s job to forgive and our job to sin, right?

This explains the early church’s emphasis on an angry God, His wrath, and the law because man has no motivation to stay the straight and narrow path.

Paul points out that when we accepted Jesus our relationship to sin has changed; therefore, we have died to sin and a life of sinning is incompatible with life.  Paul will explain this in detail but his point is clear:  Before, we were dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1); now we are dead to sin.

In New Testament Times baptism so closely followed conversion that the two were considered part of one event.  Baptism is closely associated with faith although not the means by which we enter into a faith relationship with Jesus.

The ancient Greek word for baptized means “to immerse or overwhelm something.” When a person is baptized in water, they are immersed or covered over with water. When they are baptized with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11Acts 1:5), they are “immersed” or “covered over” with the Holy Spirit. When they are baptized with suffering (Mark 10:39), they are “immersed” or “covered over” with suffering.  Here, Paul refers to being baptized – “immersed” or “covered over” – in Christ Jesus.

Being baptized with water is us identifying with Jesus’s death and resurrection.  It’s not cleansing here as Paul uses the term.  In essence, you can’t die and rise again without it changing you.  It’s akin to almost dying.  You’re changed when you have a near-death experience. We die spiritually and rise with Jesus!

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 9, Day 2: Romans 5:12-14

Summary of passage:  Sin entered the world through Adam and death as a consequence.  Death and sin has been in the world ever since.

Questions:

3)  Adam.  In Genesis (not in this passage in Romans), God warns Adam not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil because he will die if he does.  God curses man because of this sin, initiating death to all of mankind and enmity (the devil) into the world.  Pain in childbirth came and man was cursed to work for his food.  Man was banished from the Garden of Eden forever and under sin forever.

4)  That people are born good.  We are all born sinners.  I believe this because we are told so in the Bible multiple times (like verse 12) and because of man’s nature–selfish, prideful, greedy, lustful, etc.  After Original sin of Adam, all were born sinners.

Conclusions:  I realize we gotta spread 16 chapters of Romans out over 30 weeks, but this was another “duh” day (as evidenced by the number of extra passages BSF had to send us to).  If you’re a Christian, question 4 was dumb.  Everyone wants to think they’re good, but deep down we’re evil.  Only Christ makes us good.  I fail every day and I readily acknowledge that.  It’s a good way to stay humble.

End Notes:  Romans 5:12-21 is a contrast between Adam and Christ.  Adam introduced sin and death into the world; Christ brought righteousness and life.  These two verses sum up the comparison that ends in verse 18.  Furthermore, these two men also sum up the message of the book up to this point:  Adam stands for humanity’s condemnation (1:18-3:20) and Christ stands for the believer’s justification (3:21-5:11).

pattern  Note both are one act: biting the apple (universal ruin), dying on the cross (universal blessing).  What a lesson for us on how powerful (and consequential) our actions can be!

Significantly, Adam is responsible for the fall of the human race, not Eve.  Eve was deceived when she sinned, but Adam sinned with full knowledge (1 Timothy 2:14). Death entered through Adam and has never left.  And it won’t until the Second Coming.

All men are subject to death and therefore subject to sin–even babies–through Adam.

Is this fair?  No.  But is it fair to be made righteous by the work of another man?  Yes!  Since we are made sinners by the work of another man.  If we aren’t made sinners by Adam, then it isn’t fair for us to be made righteous by Jesus.

Most people don’t want to admit babies and kids are sinners.  But think about this:  did you teach your child to be bad?  No.  By nature, they just are.

If babies are sinners, does that mean that they go to hell if they die?  Not necessarily.  First, we know that the children of believers are sanctified by the presence of a believing parent (1 Corinthians 7:14). Secondly, David had the assurance that his baby would meet him in heaven (2 Samuel 12:23). Finally, we know that at the end of it all, God, the judge of the entire world, will do right (Genesis 18:25).

If there are children of unbelieving parents in heaven (we don’t know), it is important to understand that it is not because they are innocent. It’s because of God’s grace and mercy that He let them in.  We are are guilty and undeserving of salvation.  It’s all God!

Sin and death were in the world before the Law was given–even to those who didn’t sin.  However, the Law cannot save us–people still died.  Death still reigned.

Paul says Adam is like Jesus because both were sinless and both brought eternal consequences to the world!

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 8, Day 5: Romans 5:9-11

Summary of passage:  We are reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus Christ.  Saved.  Rejoice!

Questions:

10)  We are justified by the blood of Jesus, saved from God’s wrath.  We are reconciled to God because of Jesus.  We are saved through Jesus!  We rejoice in God because of this!

11a)  According to Webster’s Dictionary, reconciliation means “to settle to friendship or harmony; to settle, resolve.”  Zondervan’s definition is “the act of restoring harmony, bringing again into unity or agreement what has been alienated.  There is need for reconciliation between God and human beings because of the alienation between them, which is caused by sin but God provided Jesus as the means.”

One more definition:  “to put an end to hostility”.

b)  We are reconciled to God because it is our sin that created the enmity.  We are changed through Christ so we can be reconciled as we become more Christ-like.  Reconciliation is of God through Christ to the sinner.

12)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Christ’s death atoned for our sins, justified us before God as we received Christ’s righteousness through God’s grace.  Through Christ’s resurrection, we received eternal life.  I will perpetually thank Him and use my life to do His will and shine light to others.

Conclusions:  Paul reiterates again how Jesus’s death reconciles us to God so that we can be with Him forever.

End Notes:  Humans are enemies of God, not the reverse.  Thus the hostility must be removed from humans if reconciliation is to be accomplished.  God took the initiative in bringing this about through the death of his Son (verse 11 & Colossians 1:21-22).

We see a parallel here between justify and reconcile:

v9                                           v10

justified                                reconciled

by his blood                         through the death of his Son

shall we be saved                shall we be saved

Jesus’s death saves us from God’s righteous wrath.

saved through his life.  This refers to the unending life and ministry of the resurrected Christ for his people (Hebrews 7:25)  Since we were reconciled while we were God’s enemies, we will be saved because Christ lives to keep us!

Think of what God will do now that we are friends and not His enemy!  The blessings!  This reconciliation happens right now. God’s wrath towards us is gone, replaced by loving corrections and guidance.

All because of and through Jesus.  Period.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 5, Day 4: Romans 3:24-26

Summary of passage:  God granted us redemption through Jesus’s death on the cross through his blood in order to demonstrate his justice.

Questions:

9)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  To atone is to reconcile.  Atonement is a cleansing of sins.  It is the central doctrine of faith and can properly include all that Jesus accomplished for us on the cross.  Jesus stands as our substitute/sacrifice that satisfies the righteous wrath of God.  Without this, we’re all destined for eternal punishment.  It doesn’t.  I don’t need assurance.  God said so.  Done.  God loved us so much He sent Himself (Jesus, Holy Trinity) as the only thing to justify us.

10) Part personal Question.  All of our answers are mere guesses. Love.  I would say God loved his creation, mankind, so much He sent His perfect Son to us to help us, guide, us, and cleanse us so we can be with Him for all of eternity.  Jesus was the only perfect human and thus the only one worthy to be our final atoning sacrifice.. There are no words of thanks large enough for this.

Conclusions: I don’t like the “assured” questions.  For me, I shouldn’t have to be assured of anything.  If you have faith, you don’t need assurance because you don’t question or doubt.  God in His mercy and love gives us proof and assurance because of our humanity.  But we shouldn’t need it.

End Notes:  Christ was our substitute sacrifice/atonement/propitiation so God could demonstrate His righteousness in judgment.  Propitiation is in all cultures.  It’s the act of appeasing the gods and the gods’s anger against mankind through a sacrifice of some kind.  Aztecs, Mayas, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Native Americans, etc.

The ancient Greek word for propitiation (hilasterion) is also used in the Septuagint for the mercy seat, the lid covering the Ark of the Covenant, upon which sacrificial blood was sprinkled as an atonement for sin. While it might be said that this passage means “Jesus is our mercy seat,” it probably has the more straightforward idea of propitiation – a substitute sacrifice.

Inside the Ark of the Covenant was the evidence of man’s great sin: the tablets of law; the manna received ungratefully; the budded rod of Aaron, showing man’s rejection of God’s leadership. The Ark was decorated with golden cherubim as symbols of God’s holy presence.  In between the cherubim stood the mercy seat, and as sacrificial blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16), God’s wrath was averted because a substitute had been slain on behalf of sinners coming by faith.  Jesus is our “mercy seat,” standing between guilty sinners and the holiness of God.

God willingly gives His Son.  He wants us with Him!

God no longer passed over sin with the temporary OT sacrifice of animal blood.  He freed us forever from sin with Jesus’s sacrifice.  Jesus paid the price.

At the cross, God demonstrated His righteousness by offering man justification (a legal verdict of “not guilty”), while remaining completely just (because the righteous penalty of sin had been paid at the cross).

Clarke states:  God “Of his justice, in requiring a sacrifice, and absolutely refusing to give salvation to a lost world in any other way; and of his mercy, in providing the sacrifice which his justice required.”

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 5, Day 2: Romans 3:21-23

INTRODUCTORY NOTE:  This lesson is PACKED with the crux of Christianity: righteousness, justification, atonement, and redemption–all through Christ.  Some have called Romans 3:21-31 “the central theological passage in the Bible” (BSF devotes 2 weeks to this!).  I spent over 10 hours on this lesson.  Take your time and absorb it.  BSF gives us a whole week.  Use it.  Pray over it. Ponder.  Meditate.  Because if you get this lesson, you get Christ!  What is more important to spend your time on than this?!

Summary of passage:  Paul now explains how righteousness is attained only by faith in Jesus Christ, which the Law and Prophets testify to. All are sinners and equal before God.

Questions:

3)  According to Webster’s Dictionary, righteousness means “acting in accord with divine or moral law; free from guilt or sin.” Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary states it as “morally right behavior or character.  In general, any conformity to a standard.  God always acts in righteousness or has a right relationship with people and His action is to maintain that relationship.” It comes from God and is received by all believers through faith in Christ.  That’s how I understand it.

Zondervan has an amazing explanation of righteousness in the gospel:  “Paul tells us in Romans 1:16-17 that ‘a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last.’  The gospel is effective because a righteousness goes forth which is the provision of a right relationship with himself through the saving work of Jesus. To receive this gift is to be justified by faith.  Those who receive the gift then are to live as righteous people, devoted to the service of what God declares to be right.”

4)  Before Jesus, all those who obeyed the law had righteousness.  Here, Paul says apart from the law, meaning the law cannot save us nor can keeping the law save us, but God reveals a righteousness that will save us, which is  God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is a salvation that is offered apart from the law, apart from our own earning and deserving, apart from our own merits.

5a)  God granted righteousness to those He deemed worthy, which is apart from the law.  He made a covenant with Israel and put the law in their minds and wrote it on their hearts.  He forgave Israel’s wickedness and remembered their sins no more.  God granted them cleansing from their impurities and gave them a new heart and spirit and saved them. Israel was chosen to be in God’s covenant, in right relationship with Him through faith and were expected to live in right relationship with others.  It matters because it was the only way to God before Jesus.  It also shows God’s faithfulness to His people and how He keeps His promises to us.

Other OT references:  Psalm 32:1-2.  Paul actually will quote this in Romans 4:6-8 as he continues to explain how God must credit righteousness based on faith.

Habakkuk 2:4 which Paul quotes in Romans 1:17.  This OT verse quoted by Paul is the verse Martin Luther read that changed his life and righteousness by faith became the rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation.

b) Part personal question. My answer:  Anyone who believes in their heart Jesus died for their sins and God raised him from the dead and confesses Jesus as their Lord.  Gratitude is my response.

Conclusions:  I love how Paul packs a lot of power into few words.  And it’s simple. Righteousness is easy:  believe in Jesus.

End Notes:  Paul just spent the first part of his letter showing us how all (Jews and Gentiles) are unrighteous (1:18-3:20).  Now, he will show how God provides us with a way to be righteous.

“But now”:  This either means 1)  Time.  And the now is the period righteousness from God has been made known or 2)  Logical.  Between the righteousness gained by observing the law (which is impossible v 20) and the righteousness provided by God.

Paul didn’t invent righteousness; it’s been around since the Prophets as always part of God’s plan.  We can’t earn merit before Him by following the law.  This is apart from the law.

Righteousness is something not earned, but received, through faith in Christ.  There is no other way to obtain righteousness.  It’s all trust.

Everyone must receive this gift because all sin and fall short.  We fail in so many ways: fail to give Him glory in our words, thoughts and actions.  We reject His glory.  Thus, justification through faith and grace is offered….

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 3, Day 4: Romans 2:17-24

Summary of passage:  Paul calls out Jews who are hypocritical and believe themselves above others because of their beliefs.  He asks them if they do the very things they preach against:  steal, commit adultery, worship idols, etc.  They are the ones blaspheming God’s name amongst the Gentiles because of their behavior (giving God a bad name).

Questions:

9a)  God chose the Jews as the ones to receive His law, abide by it, and teach it and in return receive blessings.  It seems they have become lackadaisical and flippant, disregarding the law themselves but expecting everyone else to abide by it.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I can be hypocritical with my kids, using the fact I’m an adult as an excuse.  I have begun to catch myself lately and reverse this however.  Work in progress, as always!

10)  Idol worship, stealing, committing adultery, and breaking God’s law.  All of us say one thing and do another at some point in some way.  Basically, every commandment God or Jesus says to do in the Bible is broken by man.  We don’t love others; we’re not kind or compassionate; we don’t care for those in need; we do steal and lie and cheat and covet and commit adultery.  We blasphemy God’s name.  We puts things above Him.  We all sin.  Luckily, Jesus forgives.

11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  God judges.  They stain Christianity and make it harder for non-Christians to come to God.  I think we all violate God’s standards cause we sin.  Our job is to shrink the number of times we sin, walking more and more towards the light, admitting our failures and faults, giving it to God, and rising tomorrow a better person.  That’s all we poor sinners can do.

Conclusions:  Good lesson, reminding us how we are being watched, how what we say and do does matter, how we do represent Christianity by default, and how God does hold us to higher standards.  If we do nothing else in this world but live to His standards, we will convert others just by our examples even without evangelizing per se.  We must diminish our desire to sin and be hypocrites and live by God’s ways.  In the end, that’s all we can do and why God is the loving, forgiving God that He is.

End Notes:  In first century AD, Jews looked upon themselves as special, chosen by God, given His law, and guaranteed salvation (as long as your heart was God’s).  This was true (before Jesus).  Once Jesus came you have to believe in Him to gain salvation.  That’s not Paul’s point, however.  His point is that this “specialness” belief has turned to boastfulness, pride, and superiority over others and is no guarantee of anything.

This presentation takes the form of a dialogue.  Paul knew how a self-righteous Jew thought, for he had been one himself (who better to speak to this?).  He cites on advantage after another that Jews regarded as unqualified assets.  But those assets became liabilities when there was no correspondence between profession and practice.  Paul applied to the Jews the principles of judgment laid out in verse 1-16.

Jesus explained in Matthew 5:19-48 that knowing the law does not justify anyone.  The law applies to both our actions and our heart.

Paul implies that some Jews may have been profiting from idolatry.

Paul reminds the Jews how God said in the Old Testament that the failure of the Jew to obey the law causes Gentiles to blaspheme God (Isaiah 52:5; Ezekiel 36:22).