In order to characterize the Apostle Paul during the time of his ministry it is necessary to determine what happened to him soon after that encounter and how it affected the rest of his life. Shortly after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus Paul was converted and received God’s Holy Spirit, as do all who are truly converted (not saved). The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of power in Romans 1:4; 15:13,19 for a reason. In verse five Paul writes that God gives converts the Holy Spirit so they can live in “OBEDIENCE to THE (one and only true) faith.” Faith is taking God’s Word at face value. The apostles were to teach God’s Word to people in all nations and teach them how to OBEY IT BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. In 1:16 Paul states that God’s gospel (Word/Law), if obeyed by His the Spirit’s power, will lead to salvation. In verse 17 he states that “therein” (the gospel-vs 16) is found the righteousness of God that converts must manifest. Saints take on God’s righteousness by obeying His Words of righteousness–the Holy Bible. Just as “we are what we eat” physically, “we are what we obey” spiritually. This rule works both positively and negatively. In 1:18-31 the Lord, through Paul, tells us what will happen to all sinners, churched and unchurched for He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). He rewards man for his deeds, whether with blessings or curses. What a man sows, he reaps. His religiosity plays no part in the outcome of his sowing. Note that Paul is writing to the church, to those God calls His beloved saints who have received His grace and peace (1:1:7). In verse 18 he notes that many in the churches were either not truly converted or who had lost their conversion. These were ungodly and unrighteous men who “hold (possessed)the Truth (gospel–Jn. 17:17) in unrighteousness (disobedience).” These people “knew God” (vs 21) but did not obey Him. Instead they vainly went their own religious way. From verse 22-31 Paul describes their various sins. In verse 32 he notes that they knew that the God they claimed to serve declared them worthy of death. Nevertheless, they continued to sin while encouraging others to follow their lead.
In chapter two Paul calls those church people out, telling them that because they will not repent and turn from their wickedness they will not escape the judgment of God (vss 1-5). In verses 6-13 he compares the blessings God will give those who obey Him to the curses He will pour out on those who do not. In verses 6,13 he tells them that they will be judged by their DEEDS (WORKS), and that those works involve the Law (Ten Commandments). In verse 13 he reminds them that only those who obey the Law are and will remain justified (forgiven). In 1 John 3:4 the apostle reveals the relationship between sin and the Law. He does this by stating God’s definition of sin: “To transgress (disobey) the Law is sin, for sin is the transgression of the Law.” Note it: NEW TESTAMENT SIN IS THE BREAKING OF GOD’S LAW–THE ENTIRE BIBLE. ON MT. SINAI HE SUMMARIZED IN THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, WROTE THEM IN STONE AND HID THEM SO THAT MAN COULD NOT PHYSICALLY CHANGE THEM. In 2:5 Paul takes a spiritual hammer to the idea that we can simply repent after each sin and all will be well. Here he tells the sinners in the church that if they continue to sin their sins will accumulate (be “treasured” up) until the Day of Judgment. Those “sinners saved by grace” will have repented thousands of times in vain. Nothing has changed. Does anyone doubt that Paul understood what sin was and knew that the penalty for sin is death (Rom. 6:23) for those who do not truly repent, turn to God and obey Him?
With that assurance in mind, let us turn to Romans 3:23-26 where he explains that justification–the forgiveness of all of one’s PAST sins (vs 25), is given freely by virtue of God’s grace (vs 24) which one appropriates by faith (26). Note it: JUSTIFICATION IS NOT RECEIVED BY VIRTUE OF OBEYING THE LAW, BUT SOLELY BY GOD’S GRACE. Here is where billions of church people have gotten off God’s track. They believe that the Book of Romans is about salvation. It is not. It is about JUSTIFICATION. The words “justification,” “justify,” “justified” and “just” are mentioned 21 times in the first eight chapters. “Salvation” and “saved” are mentioned 12 times. The message of Romans is that God’s grace enables the sinner to be cleansed of his PAST sins. He will ultimately be judged by his “DEEDS” that he performs following justification (Rom. 2:6) which allows him to retain it. God’s grace provides for the forgiveness of ones PAST SINS. At that time one is declared righteous (without sin). “Abraham believed God (His Words) and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Neither faith alone, nor grace alone, nor the combination of the two produces salvation. Those are the first two steps on the long road to salvation. PAUL KNEW THIS. We have been told that the Book of Romans proves that the Law is no longer valid, but was “nailed to the cross” and that all one needed to do was believe in Jesus. In fact Paul’s epistle proves the exact opposite. As this series will affirm.
In chapter five Paul tells us that God’s grace produces righteousness which shows that one is reigning over sin, not giving in to it (vs 17). In verse 21 he tells us that our righteousness (if continued to the end–Mat. 10:22) will result in salvation. Grace opens the door to forgiveness of past sins. Contrary to universal opinion, it does make sin a Biblically-defined right. The Apostle Jude warned that in his day ungodly, condemned men had arisen in the church and were turning God’s grace into lasciviousness–a license to sin (vs 4). Many were following them. Nothing has changed. Satan’s false prophets are preaching that same sermon openly, globally and continually. Visit any church or turn on any religious channel and you will hear sinning saints’ favorite sermon. The modern counterfeit version of God’s church accuses Paul of saying that grace enables them to sin and remain in good stead with God. I can almost hear Satan whisper in their spiritual ear that they can continue to sin and “… will not surely die.” And like Adam and Eve, they believe him.
In 6:1,2,15 Paul, who supposedly taught that grace nullifies the Law, asks: “Shall we continue to sin so that God can exhibit His grace? GOD FORBID! How can we who are dead to sin continue to sin? Shall we sin because we are not under the Law but under grace? GOD FORBID!” “Not under the Law” means that God forgave our past sins by His grace and not because we obeyed the Law. He then, upon true conversion, gave us the power, in the form of the Holy Spirit, to obey the Law (not sin–be righteous) and therefore not receive the death penalty for breaking it as do both churched and unchurched sinners. Perhaps the ultimate statement relative to EARNING OUR SALVATION BY OUR DEEDS (DOINGS) comes from 6:18,19,22 where Paul tells us that grace has made us free from our PAST sins and empowered us to resist FUTURE sins, thereby making us RIGHTEOUS. Righteousness maintained produces HOLINESS. The end result of holiness is SALVATION. Note that the awarding of eternal life DEPENDS ON THE GRACE-TO-JUSTIFICATION-TO-RIGHTEOUSNESS-TO-HOLINESS-TO-SALVATION FORMULA GOD HAS DESIGNED. This is the true “Christian walk” that we are commanded to walk (1 Jn. 2:6). Jesus said in Matthew 10:22 that he who endures (maintains his holiness in the face of Satan’s temptations) to the end (of life or the world) “shall be” (then) saved. Paul knew that if he continued to sin after being converted he would not enter the Kingdom of God. Next: the time element involved in chapters 7,8 will expose the church’s excuse for sinning for what it is–a Satan-generated ruse. L.J.