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 11, Day 5: Romans 6:19-23

Summary of passage:  We now offer our bodies in slavery to righteousness, which leads to holiness and eternal life.  Sin leads to death.

Questions:

11)  In essence, people want to be free to do whatever they wish with no repercussions.  This is just not reality. Under your own strength, you can’t do anything.  True freedom is living under God’s strength to overcome sin.  Following our own path is a slave to Satan.  It’s not how we were designed to live.  It’s a lie Satan tells you to keep on sinning.  When you do your own thing, Satan is in charge.

12)  Slave to sin: death.  Slave to God: holiness and eternal life.

13a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Sin leads you to feeling broken and hopeless, unworthy and guilty, shameful and evil.  God uses these experiences to make you yearn for Him and His ways.  He replaces those feelings with hope and worthiness and holiness.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Gratitude (my stock answer).  A desire to do His will through His strength.  Be more like Jesus every day.

Conclusions:  Question 13 is repetitive and could have done without it.  Question 11 is too broad.  It’s any sin.  Weak lesson.  Paul is basically repeating himself as well to emphasize how we now are free in Jesus.

End Notes:  The “human terms” is Paul apologizing for using slavery as his example from human lives because so many back then were slaves or if not slaves per se in essence slaves because Rome dictated their lives, but it was an accurate description of his point.

Paul speaks of habits when he says “impurity to ever-increasing wickedness”.  The longer you do something, the more ingrained it is and the harder to change.  In times of temptation, we must remember ever-lasting life.

Slavery to God produces holiness, and eventually eternal life.  There is no eternal life without holiness (Hebrews 12:14).

We must fight against every occasional sin because the benefits (life) far outweighs death!  This is Paul’s answer to Romans 6:15.  Remember, it’s a gift, not earned.

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 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 4, Day 5: Romans 3:19-20

Summary of passage:  The whole world is accountable to God and His Word.  His Word makes all conscious of sin and merely observing the law does not make you righteous.

Questions:

11)  The whole world is accountable to God and His Word.  His Word makes all conscious of sin and merely observing the law does not make you righteous.

12a) Just that:  To silence every critic, God is making it clear ALL are guilty before Him.

b) So far, it hasn’t really. I’ve learned more about the importance of it, but it hasn’t had an concrete effects on identifying and confessing sins.  It’s Week 4.

Conclusions: Unsure why we need a whole day on these two verses (besides the obvious that Romans only has 16 chapters for a 30 week study), which in my mind only emphasizes the facts we’re not righteous just because we obey the law, which is what we’ve been talking about all week.

End Notes:  The law cannot save you.  It gives you knowledge of your sins, not salvation.  In fact, it condemns you, not saves you.  Yes, God wants you to keep His laws and walk in His ways.  But that alone will not give you eternal life.  Only the purifying blood of Jesus can do so under the New Covenant.

J.B. Phillip’s paraphrase of “through the law we become conscious of sin” is striking.  He writes, “it is the straight-edge of the Law that shows us how crooked we are.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 4, Day 4: Romans 3:9-18

Summary of passage:  Paul says we are all sinners and no one is righteous, quoting from the Old Testament.

Questions:

8a)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  No one understands God.  No one seeks Him.  All turn away and become worthless.  No one does good.  Their throats are open graves, their tongues full of deceit, and they speak poison.  They curse and are bitter.  They are swift to shed blood.  They bring ruin and misery.  They do not know peace.  They do not fear God.  We all have sin in our lives and are surrounded by sinners.  People are mean.  They fall away from God.  Wars.  Flippant attitude towards God and sinning.  Personally, sticking to God’s path is the hardest and dealing with my own sin.

b)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Tongues are full of deceit.  The poison of vipers is on their lips.  Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.  The tongue can corrupt the whole person.  It is full of evil and poison.  Speak more words of encouragement and praise.  There’s enough complaining and tearing down in this world.

9)  No one fears God.  Well, Paul quotes from the Old Testament here and he is living in New Testament times.  Regardless, man’s nature doesn’t change with time.  He is a sinner and is prone to turn away from God and not fear Him. God thus judges and punishes as we see all throughout the Old and New Testament.  So will it be until the Second Coming.

10)  Think before you act.  Repent.  Ask for forgiveness.  Put others first.  Follow God’s laws.  Worship Him.  Treat God and Jesus with the respect they deserve.  Both lie in your heart and you do everything in your power to keep them there.

Conclusions:  Paul again is emphasizing how we are all the same no matter what our backgrounds. God treats us equally.  He takes it further here by saying we are all sinners and listing ways in which we sin.  He wraps up with how no one fears God when we should.  Good lesson on keeping us all humble.  Least we get on our high horses, read Romans.

End Notes:  Again, Paul says all are under sin and deserve condemnation (Jews, pagans, Gentiles, everyone).

“Under sin” literally means sold under sin or a slave to sin. We are all born in sin.

Paul then quotes the Old Testament (mainly Psalm and Isaiah) as proof of our sinhood.  Paul uses parts of the body to emphasize our complete helplessness to save ourselves.  Adam before the Fall wasn’t even righteous.  He was merely innocent.  The throat, tongue, lips, mouth, feet, and eyes are filled with sin and rebellion against God.

God calls all of us.  On our own we would not seek out Him.

We sin because we do not have the proper respect (or fear) of God.

Side Note:  If you were to look up these verses, you would find Paul does not quote them verbatim.  There are several reasons for this:

  1.  New Testament authors sometimes gave the general sense and not a direct quote.
  2. Quotation marks were not used in ancient Greek.
  3. Citations were often taken from the pre-Christian Greek translation (the Septuagint) of the Hebrew OT because Greek readers were not familiar with the Hebrew Bible.
  4. Sometimes this was done on purpose by the NT writer in order to drive home his point.  Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the writer would enlarge, abbreviate or adapt an OT passage or combine them.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 2, Day 4: Romans 1:24-28

Summary of passage: God allowed those who rejected Him to sin through sexual impurity and to degrade others.  These sinners worshiped created things (lies) rather than the Creator (Truth).  Men lusted for other men and committed indecent acts and were punished for such.  Women did so as well.  Furthermore, God allowed their minds to be perverted with no knowledge of Him and they did what ought NOT to be done.

Questions:

9a)  That God is the Creator of all things.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Material things or the desire of, people, work or career, pets, images of god, other gods, nothing, and creation itself are common ones for people.  I think I do pretty good keeping Him the center of my world.  Sometimes passion overtakes God (when sin occurs like anger or love).  Like with any distraction, my life would be more God-centered, loving, compassionate, and kind-hearted without everything else pulling me in a thousand different directions.

10)  God created man and woman in His image to be together and I think sometimes man puts woman (or vice versa) ahead of Him.  Sexual sin is very intimate.  The Holy Spirit lives in our bodies, which we are to treat as a temple.  Hence, when we sin sexually, it is a greater sin (against our body) and we are the body of Christ.  It’s akin to worship and idolatry cause we are putting someone else ahead of God.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  “God gave them over”  In essence, God has abandoned them to their sin.  He’s turned His back.  No one “gets away” with immorality and/or injustice.  All will pay the price before Christ on Judgment Day.  It doesn’t change my thoughts because I don’t worry about what other people do because I know God will judge them.  However, it does sadden me to think of God abandoning them.  I don’t want to be abandoned by God.  It’s as if God has given up.  Incredibly sad.

Conclusions:  We see the importance God places on us taking our bodies seriously.  Sex is never ‘just sex’.  Our bodies mirror God’s and He lives in us.  Other sins (murder, lying, cheating, stealing, etc) don’t directly affect the Spirit.  This one does.  God is saying sexual sin is a complete abandonment of Him, thus deserving Him abandoning us.  How tragic!

End Notes:  God’s wrath allows us to keep sinning.  Otherwise, He’d stop us.

It’s supposed to read “the lie”, not “a lie” in verse 25.  “The lie” is us putting ourselves in God’s place (Genesis 3:5).

Paul wrote this from the city of Corinth, where every sort of sexual immorality and ritualistic prostitution was practiced freely, including in their temples.   Spurgeon would not even read this passage outloud he was so offended by its description of man’s vices.

This passage is clearly a condemnation of homosexuality.  The Old Testament condemns it as well (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13).

Paul uses the Greek words here for male and female, not men and women, a distinction to draw attention to the fact the sin is beyond human terms.

Roman culture approved of homosexuality and many practiced it openly.  Most Roman emperors had sex with young boys.  At times the Roman Empire specifically taxed approved homosexual prostitution and gave boy prostitutes a legal holiday. Legal marriage between same gender couples was recognized, and even some of the emperors married other men.  At the very time Paul wrote, Nero was emperor.  He took a boy named Sporus and had him castrated, then married him (with a full ceremony), brought him to the palace with a great procession, and made the boy his “wife.” Later, Nero lived with another man, and Nero was the “wife.”

Statistics show many homosexuals today have many more partners than non-homosexuals.  Sex is not honored.

The word debased or depraved (or, reprobate in the KJV) originally meant “that which has not stood the test.” It was used of coins that were below standard and therefore rejected. The idea is that since man did not “approve” to know God, they came to have an “unapproved” mind.  It is as if man were testing God to see if He passed and then rejected Him.

One commentator called the depraved mind “spiritually insane”.  I like this!  Our thinking is affected through sin.  Why else would one rebel against God?

Amen in verse 25 can mean either “Yes indeed, it is so” or “So be it”.