When we looked at my first article on Romans in last month’s “Thy Kingdom Come”, I focussed primarily on the first five chapters of Romans which dealt mainly on the total depravity of the world and justification of us sinners through the grace of God in our faith toward the redemptive blood and being of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) In this essay we will look at the remaining part of this Epistle dealing with sanctification, disbelief in Israel, mostly Jews at the time of Paul and they and us today and our relationship with God in our daily lives. Justification is attainable only through the grace of God in our faith toward our Lord and Savior; sanctification on the other hand is the in-working of the Holy Spirit and controls our actions and behavior in our daily lives and our walk with Jesus. Do not for one minute think that once we obtain justification by faith in our Lord and when by the power of the Holy Spirit, we walk the walk of those sanctified that then we have become perfect, far be from it. Through Adam we have been imbued with an inherent sinful nature and neither justification nor sanctification will ever change that, as such we were born and as such we will remain. Even St. Paul struggled with that situation for he exclaims in Rom. 7:19-20, “For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil that I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me”. So, you see, if Paul, who had a direct confrontation with the Lord Jesus (Acts 9:4-5) has to fight the inclinations of the flesh, how much more than us mortals that live by faith alone. No matter how hard we fight, Satan will, until the very last, try to break that faith and lead us astray. Only by God’s grace can we remain strong and true, but let our guard down for just one moment and Satan and his minions will be all over us, for the Devil likes nothing better than to snatch one of God’s children away from the flock, but remember, if we are one with God, we are always a majority, we cannot lose if we stay true to God and ourselves, for God’s Spirit will be with us always. It is that Spirit that will determine the path that we must tread. It will lead us to walk according to the commandments of our Lord, for good in our lives and in the lives of others. It will teach us to love rather than hate, it will show us the way of kindness to those less fortunate than ourselves, it will take away evil desire and envy so that we will not lust after the possession of our neighbors, in short it will completely change and direct our outlook on life. Sanctification is a word or concept that is completely lost to the average church goer in today’s churchianity, where the emphasis is based on love, (God loves everybody), without any obligation on the believers’ part.
In reality, sanctification is the Spirit working in us to set us apart in Holiness unto God in readiness for Christ’s return in glory, and not for any human glorification or satisfaction. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Rom. 8:28-30). Justification, sanctification and glorification are all by the grace of God; but He calleth and He determines it is never ever what we will, but what God wills.
In chapter 9 Paul laments the spiritual condition and unbelief of his kinsmen. When we read chapter 9, 10 and part of chapter 11, we will come to the conclusion, that although these chapters talk about Israelites, which a good many were, it is in fact the Jews that are being talked about and not the Israelites in dispersion. Paul during his missionary journeys found many of the dispersion willing and ready to be converted and accept Jesus Christ their Savior.
It is really remarkable, this Jewish reluctance, for they held in their possession the oracles of God. They had the law and the books of Moses, they possessed the writings of the Prophets, which spoke of the coming Messiah, and they were in control of the Temple, yet with all that, they vehemently rejected Jesus Christ, the Anointed of God. They were so steeped in the traditions of the Elders (Traditions of Man), (Mark 7:5,8) that they could not see the forest because of the trees. It is my guess that in their zeal for perfection they could not accept a Savior, the Messiah, who was born in a smelly stable, but instead were looking for a conquering King, which He is, a supernatural being with four wings, riding a winged white steed, coming down out of the clouds of Heaven. In the fifteen hundred years prior to Paul’s writings, they failed in the Covenant, made at Mt. Sinai, and never accepted the New Covenant established at Calvary, but now, sad to say, they are joined by millions of others, others that have not only access to the Law and the Prophets, but the words of our Lord in the four Gospels and all the Epistles written in the New Testament of our Bible. For approximately a thousand years the Church of Rome held a tyrannical sway over the masses, mainly of Europe, until the Reformation, which set the people free from a religion based on works and introduced the concept of Salvation through faith by grace. But, alas, just as Paul mentioned in 2Thes. 2:3 a great falling away has occurred since that time, mainly in these latter days that we live in now, through so called higher criticism, so-called enlightenment, agnosticism and apostasy. This brings to mind Paul’s words in 2Thes. 2:11-12, which say, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be judged [damned] who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
It is a sad situation indeed, that so many of our kinsmen reject the infallible Word of God to their own detriment. Things really have not changed at all since the days of the Apostles, have they? When we look closely at the words of 2Thes.2, mentioned, we can see that man will do as he sees fit, but God determines the final outcome, and it is not good for them that reject the truth. But thank God, for we who are led by the Spirit of God, are called the Sons of God and if we are sons/daughters of God we are also heirs with God’s greater Son, or Lord Jesus. What an amazing concept, what a mind-boggling reality! Eight hundred years before Christ the Prophet Hosea wrote the words that bear out what Paul says in Romans 8, “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass that, in the place where it was said unto them Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” (Hos. 1:10).
In the final chapters of the Epistle, Paul goes to great lengths to point out the proper conduct and lifestyle of the followers of the Lamb. These guidelines are of great benefit especially to a new convert, for those of us, who, by the grace of God, are considered to be in the realm of sanctification and glorification because of the maturity of our faith will automatically walk in close harmony with our Lord, since our spirit and the Lord’s spirit are in tune with one another. It is this harmony and His guidance that we stand in need of during these latter, uncertain and turbulent times, times where, because we are Isaac-sons, even the color of our skin is becoming a point of contention in this upside-down world gone mad. May our Lord and Savior and our Heavenly Father guide and protect you in the days ahead! Amen!