“Wrestling With Romans”
Rejoice in the Lord Always (Chapter 5 Verses 1-11)
The effect of our justification (vv3-5) has tremendous consequences for our Christian lives, and especially so in the realm of suffering. Suffering for an unbeliever is not only unproductive, it is completely destructive. For a Christian, the person who has been reconciled to God, suffering works in us goodness, everything does (Romans 8.28). The pressure that we encounter from the world because we believe in Christ (John 15.18; 16.20), we can rejoice in (1Peter 4.12-14), because it is a means which God uses to draw us closer to himself, that suffering is termed by Paul elsewhere as a gift (Philippians 1.29). It carries us forward and upward step by step. The first step, it produces perseverance, not just endurance, or even patience, but a sort of strength which although the suffering continues or multiplies it remains firm without complaint. The second step (v4) is character, a condition which has been tested and found to be genuine, meeting the necessary requirements. Suffering and perseverance produce this character. The third step is hope. Because our hope is based on reality, truth, and the subjective experience of God’s love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, it does not, it cannot disappoint us (v5), we have much reason to lift up our heads, and rejoice.
Here is the clear demonstration of God’s love (vv6-11), just when we needed help most (v6), when we were ungodly, unrighteous (v7), the kind of people you and I might not even cross the street to help, God sent his Son to die for us (v8). Now if God has done all that, gone to those lengths, sending Jesus to the death of the cross to justify us (v9), well the final step of clearing God’s wrath is a simple one. The biggest, the hardest part for the Father surely is giving up his Son, the Son whom he loves, for ungodly, unrighteous, sinful people, the rest after that, in a sense, if we might so say, is easy. The death of his Son spelled reconciliation, an end of hostilities (Romans 8.7). You see the awful condition we had gotten ourselves into? We were blind, ignorant, enemies of God, his wrath burning against us because of our sin? Whilst we were in that condition, God, in the vastness, the immensity of his love toward us reconciled us to himself. Something only he could do, we were utterly powerless (v6), that surely is love indeed, is it not? Again I say we have much cause for rejoicing today (Philippians 4.4). Sing praises to him.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)