Romans 2:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 2:13

“For it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.” – Romans 2:13 

Paul is writing to the Romans here, which have many Jews who believed they were saved by their adherence to the Mosaic Law.  Their belief is that if they are perfect in keeping the law, and this includes the sacrifices of such as the sin offering, then you are in good standing with God.  If they gave great deference to the Law, if they hear it read with attention and professed with their mouths a great desire and willingness to yield to it in obedience, they were the ones who were the saved.

We have many today who believe the same thing, and they think of themselves as Christians.  Many believe that if we hear or read the Bible and go to church occasionally, if we sing the words of a song without doing it in worship and praise to God, if we say a short and/or memorized prayer where the words are secondary to the action itself, then how different are we from the Jews who believed that as long as they heard the Law and performed the rituals they were good.

I am definitely not perfect here, however, when I detect this in myself, I immediately ask God to forgive me and I focus on what I am there for, reading His Word, singing as worship, praying in humility, or any other action in my service and adoration of God.  We must come to the point where we realize it is not the words we say or the empty actions we perform, but the heart and sincerity by which we do and say these things.  Jesus said the following, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37. This was said in answer to the question of which is the greatest commandment in the Law?

Jesus’ words bring additional clarity to our focus verse.  The greatest commandment in the Law is to love God with everything we have.  And that means whatever we do, whether it be reading or listening to the scriptures, praying to Him, taking communion or whatever else we are doing, ensure we are doing it with our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole mind, and our whole strength.  If we do not, then we are mere hearers of the law who are simply going through the motions.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Romans 4:2

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Romans 4:2

“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about; but not before God.” – Romans 4:2     

There are many today who believe that if they are good enough they can attain salvation, therefore they do many good works thinking that if they do enough they will earn salvation. However, this is not the case. We see this in the writings of Paul where he said, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10. Now the Jews in the first century Church struggled with this idea. Therefore, Paul spent a lot of time trying to get this point across. But we see he also had to address the false idea that due to this, they did not need to obey the law if they had faith. And he addressed this in the last verse of the prior chapter. “Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” Romans 3:31. Paul then clearly lays out how this all works.

He starts by mentioning Abraham their forefather. “What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?” Romans 4:1. This was essentially an objection of the Jews. ‘How does your doctrine of justification by faith agree with what the Scriptures say of Abraham? Was the Law set aside in his case? Did he derive no advantage in justification from the rite of circumcision, and from the covenant which God made with him?’ Paul starts by countering this idea. In our focus verse we read, “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about; but not before God.” Romans 4:2. The Jews of Jesus’ day considered Abraham the primary example of justification by works. The apostle James could ask without fear of rebuttal, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?” James 2:21. So the claim that God accepts people on the basis of personal trust rather than adherence to the law seems to run counter to the principle in force with Abraham. Therefore, it can be seen how the Jews would believe this way.

However, Paul then shows them that this was not the case. “For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:3. We find this in the Book of Genesis. “And Abram said, Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir. And he brought him outside and said, Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. Then he said to him, So shall your offspring be. And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” Genesis 15:3-6. As we see in this passage, because Abraham believed what God told him regarding his offspring, God counted his faith as righteousness. And Paul uses this to teach the Jews the truth. “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,” Romans 4:4-5. Paul proceeds to contrast the way of works with the way of grace. When one works, his wage is his as a right; it belongs to him. It is not a free gift. Whereas grace is a free gift. And then Paul refers to David. “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” Romans 4:5-8. As we see here, as Abraham’s faith and not his works, was credited to him as righteousness, so is our faith credited to us as righteousness. A system of works seeks to put God in debt to us, making God owe us His favor because of our good behavior. In works-thinking, God owes us salvation or blessing because of our good works. But this is not the way it works. “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:21-23.

We have all sinned, some more than others, but we all have sin that negates our righteousness. No  amount of good works will take this unrighteousness away. Only the grace of God can, and this through our faith in God in the substitutionary death on the cross. We must understand that only perfection will save us. And if we are not perfect, we need a perfect one to pay the penalty for us, and this is Jesus. There is nothing we can do to gain salvation and no amount of good works can erase our sins. We must completely place our trust in Him by accepting His work on the cross, where He died for us and thus paid our penalty. We are not worthy of salvation by doing good works, but we should do good works because we believe and thus He deems us worthy through the grace He gives to us. Let us not forget this, and then tell the world of this love and grace. And this is a good work indeed.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Romans 5:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 5:1 

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, ” – Romans 5:1

All of us can look back and see our lives the way they were prior to accepting the salvation offered to us through Christ Jesus.  Speaking for myself, I can see the many ways I did not follow God’s ways but my own.  The truth is, all of us did not follow His ways, for as Paul says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23.  And because of this, we were all declared guilty and subject to punishment, and there was nothing we could do to erase this guilt.  However, what we could not do, God did for us.  It was required that a perfect sacrifice be made on our behalf.  This is where Jesus comes in.  As expressed above, our salvation comes through accepting the gift of salvation offered to us because of the perfect sacrifice made on our behalf: the sacrifice of the perfect Son of God, Jesus the Christ.

Because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, we all have the opportunity to be justified, pronounced and treated as righteous.  And through our acceptance of this work on the cross we are justified, and justification is the act of God not only forgiving the believer’s sins but imputing to him the righteousness of Christ.  And according to our focus verse, it is only through faith.  It is not earned through anything that we have or can do.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9,  And also, “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,” Titus 3:4-6

Remember, this is not anything we can earn or buy.  It is strictly a free gift from God.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23.  We can do nothing to earn justification.  But the sad truth is, many people believe that they must earn salvation.  In practically every religion, including some churches who falsely claim Christianity as their foundation, man is working his way to God and His approval.  They are being taught that man must do all the right things in order to be saved.  However, the truth is that only God can provide this, and all we need to do is accept it.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day we can spend time with family and friend giving thanks for the salvation as well as all the other blessings God has provided for us.  It is also a time where we can spend time in prayer to our God who loves us so much, He gave His only begotten Son to address our sins through a merciful act of justification.  Without this, we would be eternally separated from God in a horrible place. 

So, I want to encourage all of us to spend time giving thanks to the one who provided our salvation which we were unable to provide ourselves.  And also, throughout the year, help those who still do not understand that God did all the work for we were unable to do anything regarding our salvation;  that Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, accepted by us through faith, is the only way to have peace with God.  Our thankfulness should be the impetus for us to help others be saved and present this same thankfulness to our Almighty God.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Romans 3:20

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 3:20  

“Because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20  

This is an important verse because too often, people look at their actions to denote whether they are saved or not saved.  This was what the Jews believed throughout the old and new testament and in our present times.  And unfortunately, many who call themselves Christians also fall into this trap.  In the time of Christ, the Jews believed that following the Mosaic Law was the way to salvation.  If they just did the things the law said to do and did not do what the law said not to do, then they were, in essence, saved. 

However, Micah laid out what the Lord required of man.  “With what shall I come to the LORD And bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” Micah 6:5.  Micah starts by asking the question, how shall I approach the Lord?  How shall I come to Him to address my sin?  Is it through sacrifice?  Does the killing of many animals address my wrong doing?  No, and he explains what the Lord does require.  “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8. He does not delight in sacrifices.  What He desires of us is to act with justice in all we do.  To be merciful to all and walk with humility with Him.  When we look at these three things, we do not necessarily see actions but character.  They are things we do because it is who we are.  Looking at these three again, what God desires is for us to be just, merciful and humility.  It is not the works of the law.

Now, we read in James the following.  “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” James 2:24.  It seems from this verse that works is part of what justifies us.  However, this is made clearer in a previous verse.  “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”  James 2:17.  What this clarifies is that it is not works that matter but faith.  However, true faith is proven by works.  Therefore, faith is what Christ is looking for in us, however, if not in conjunction with works, do we have true faith?  We are saved by faith, but our works shows our faith.  Paul comes right out and states it like it is.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. Nobody can be justified in the sight of God due to the works of the law.  The reason for this is that no one has ever kept the law completely with no deviation.  “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23.  Therefore, we cannot be justified by the law; meaning our works.  However, this does not mean we are without hope.  “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” Ephesians 1:7.  We could not pay the penalty, but Jesus could, through His perfect life. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.  He gave His life for us because He loved us. 

In closing, does this mean we do not need to keep His commandments because He paid the price for us?  Absolutely not.  For by keeping them we prove our love for Him.  “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15. The idea is that salvation is based on the work of Christ, and we accept this work because we love Him and desire to give our everything to Him.  “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” John 14:21. Our salvation is based on Christ’s work on the cross, and not by our works. But our works show the love we have for Christ and our acceptance of that work.  He loves us and pays the penalty, thus we should love Him because He did what we could not do.  What a loving God we serve.   

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.