Old Testament Reading: Exodus 13 & 14
Psalms Reading: Psalm 35
*New Testament Reading: Romans 5
Some may be tempted to think the burden of living a Christian life just isn’t worth it. Life is boring, you can’t have any fun, and all the rules make life almost not worth living. If someone ever thought that, Romans 5 is for them. This is an exciting chapter in an exciting book.
Romans 5 talks about justification – which refers to how a person can be declared righteous before God through faith in Jesus Christ. The first half of Romans 5 talks about the benefits of being justified, and the second half tells how justification is possible.
You might think the benefits are just for the future, limited to eternal life in God’s future kingdom. Think again. There are real benefits to living a life completely sold out to God right here and right now.
Romans 5:1 starts out in the past tense, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Chapter 4 pointed out that being justified before God has always been through faith, not through works.) If we’re living the life God called us to live, and we are living by faith, we have been reconciled to God through Jesus. If we meet the criteria, whatever else we have done in our past is forgiven, and we have been declared righteous.
We’re told the alternative in Isaiah 48:22, “There is no peace, says the Lord, for the wicked.” Peace with God versus no peace. Let me think, which should I choose? I want peace! When you live a life of sin, you’ve declared war against God. If you’re currently at war with God, how’s that working out for you? Consider peace.
Romans 5:2a continues by talking about the present, “through whom [speaking of Jesus] we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” In the Old Testament, Jews didn’t have direct access to God. Only priests could even enter the tabernacle, and only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies only once a year. And Gentiles couldn’t even come into the inner courtyard. Through Jesus, we have gained access to God’s grace, and ultimately to God. And this is for today, not just in some distant future. We can boldly approach His throne of grace, and pray directly to God in Jesus’ name.
Romans 5:2b tells of the future “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” When Jesus returns, the faithful will live eternally with God. That’s not just a “hope” in the ordinary meaning of the word, that is our assurance. And in the assurance for our future, we can rejoice today – no matter what problems today may bring. Again, I want that tangible benefit today. Especially when times are tough.
The next passage points out that we won’t be immune from suffering, just because we have a great relationship with God. But instead of destroying us, that suffering will be for our benefit, building Christian character, and making us more firm in our future hope.
Romans 5:5 finishes this paragraph by saying, “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” As we wait for our future hope, we also have the love of God in our hearts today (that goes right along with the peace above).
The next section tells us that God loved us so much, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We didn’t deserve it. In fact, since we were at war with God, we deserved only death. That shows how much God loved us, even when we were in open rebellion against Him. So since we have been justified, we have been reconciled with God, and He will save us from His coming wrath through Jesus’ blood.
I’d say all of this is a powerfully compelling reason to live a Christian life today, completely sold out to God. Even if there wasn’t a future reward (which there is!).
The rest of Romans 5 tells us how we are justified, but first, it reminds us how sin entered the world. Adam sinned, and all of his descendants inherited his punishment – death. You might think that isn’t fair. Honestly, God was gracious in establishing this pattern, and I’ll explain why. If each of us had the opportunity of never dying in this current age if we just didn’t sin, we’d still all sin, and all die. So the result would be the same as inheriting our punishment from our first ancestor. But since God established the pattern of one person earning something, and many others inheriting that… God was able to use the same pattern to have Jesus live the only perfect life, and to have his spiritual descendants inherit His reward.
This shows God’s incredible grace. One sin caused innumerable deaths, even for those before Moses (when the law was given) who didn’t break a specific law of God. But Jesus’ one act of obedience – paying the penalty for sin with his perfect life – was after a seemingly infinite number of sins. Romans 5:19b says, “…so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
The bottom line is this: Only Jesus deserves eternal life, because only Jesus lived the perfect life God requires. Jesus wrote us into his will with his blood, leaving his reward (eternal life) to those who would believe in him and live the life God called them to live. Jesus died to put the will in effect. He now lives, and is distributing some of the benefits of that will to believers today including:
- Peace with God
- Access to God’s grace and to God himself
- Hope today for a future in God’s kingdom
- Building Christian character through suffering
- God’s love in our hearts
The final distribution of Jesus’ will will be at the Great White Throne Judgement when Jesus will judge the living and the dead. Those whose names ARE NOT found in the book of life will be thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. Those whose names ARE found in the book of life will have God “wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” (Revelation 21:4) And will get to live with God and Jesus in paradise forever.
So, is it worth it to live a Christian life? As for me, absolutely! Sign me up!
What do you think?
- Is it worth it to you to live a Christian life? Why? What benefits do you receive? What is the alternative and the consequences?
- What do you know about God from your reading today? Thank Him.