What a great chapter this is, possibly one of the greatest chapters in the Bible. There is enough material in here to do a sermon series, so don’t expect this devotional to cover anything in depth. I will just outline a few of the thoughts of this chapter. I would encourage you to read the chapter through a few times, and meditate on it if you can. I promise you that you will be blessed.
“… since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God …” – To turn that around a bit, if we would have been justified by works, we would not have had peace with God, but because we are totally dependent on Him for our justification, peace with God results from that, though Jesus. Through Him we also have access to grace, and are filled with hope, both themes keep coming back in the chapter.
The next three verses are some of my favourite: Through suffering, perseverance, and character we find hope. (Note that character, however commendable, is not the goal.) Hope is “the fervent expectation that good is coming, based on the promises of God”. It is neither vague, not baseless, but it is the driving force in our lives. People who are filled with hope are not depressed and are less likely to get sick (according to secular science), in fact they radiate something that can be seen (see 1 Peter 3:15). If you are not filled with hope, persevere, it is the first step of the journey to hope. Study and belief God’s promises, expect them to be fulfilled, make them part of your daily diet, and build your life on them. A life build on hope is a life worth living, a life lived to the full.
Verses 6-11 tell us again, that our salvation does not depend on us, as Jesus, because of His great love for us, died for us while we were still sinners, i.e. his enemies (no such thing as agnostics). If nothing else Paul says convinces you that your salvation does not depend on you, than this should. Jesus died for you while you were still in full rebellion against him. He did not look at you, and say “… (fill in your name) is so good, I’ll give my life for them”. No, you were about as far from lovable as you have ever been, and God said: “I love them, I want them to be my child.”
I am going to skip over verses 12-19, for the sake of brevity. The only thing I want to say is that, among other things, Paul is proving here that grace is infinitely stronger than sin. One sin of one man (Adam) caused the whole of creation to fall, and every sin committed since has that same destructive power. However the death of one Man (Jesus) released enough grace to bring justification to all humanity, through faith in Chris, despite the combined power of all the sins ever committed.
That takes us to the last two verses of this chapter, and what a verses they are. If you have ever tried to control sin, by putting yourself under law, whether formally or informally, here is the reason that did not work: “Law causes sin to increase.” You cannot regulate yourself into holiness, the more regulations you put on yourself, the strong sin becomes. However here is the good news: “where sin increases, grace increases even more”. Living by grace is the only way, to get rid of sin, get rid of law (formal or informal), and live by grace. Grace grows stronger exponentially where there is sin, grace is the only way out. It does not matter how great the sin was, grace is and always will be greater. Live by grace, and by grace alone, it is the greatest power in the universe, and the more grace you have, the more your life will be restored.
Now you might ask yourself: “Does that not encourage people to sin, in order to have more grace?”, but that is a question for tomorrow.